I think there are more playworkers than we think there are. I think there are playworkers in disguise. I think there are some playwork ninjas out there. After my roadtrip around the US, I know there is at least one playground designer, one film maker, at least one circus stage manager, a handful of school teachers, a whole bunch of parks and recreation staff and some museum curators who live secret lives as playworkers.
And why I say that? Because of the 4th Playwork Principle as laid out by the Playwork Principle Scrutiny Group in 2004:
"For playworkers, the play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocates for play when engaging with adult led agendas."There are people in this world that fight for world peace and for human rights. And others who stand firm in their religious beliefs or political party. Playworkers simply stand up for children's play. Playworkers put children's play on the map, putting them on par with the other things in life that people are fighting for. Because we playworkers know that play is important. We can feel it in our bones that this is necessary. And we as playworkers will engage with every type of adult-led agenda that comes our way to create opportunities for child-directed play.
I have met a lot of people who have been quietly seeking out ways to make the play opportunities possible for children and will try every trick in the book to allow that to happen for the children that they care about in their community. It has been humbling to see these amazing people work, and it has touched the very core of my personal and professional self to see such dedication to play even without an actual play sector to work in.
These playwork ninjas mostly do not call themselves playworkers, because that name carries no weight in the US yet. But I tell you their inherent ability to use a "non-judgemental, non-prejudicial, non-directive, and largely reflective approach" (carefully penned by Professor Fraser Brown in 2007) already earns them the title. Those are highly valuable traits in a playworker, and it amazed me how many of the hosts and their volunteers were able to demonstrate their ability to set aside their own agendas in favour of the child's. Okay, so they may be still be nervous now, but continuing at the pace that they are developing, the bunch of US play people that I have met in the last few months will become amazing playworkers. I just hope I get to watch them get their capes and fly! :)
Here is SuperMorgan, photo taken in Santa Clarita on a very windy Pop-Up Adventure Playground.