March 27, 2023

bfdayofplay1BY BRANDY FULTON

With the hustle and bustle of a nine to five job, it is hard to find time for yourself.
For the past five months the City of Waterloo offered a helping hand, organizing an event that brought people back to their childhood.

Since May, every third Wednesday of the month has been known as the Day of Play. Residents from the tri-cities were invited to the town square to participate in some thrilling, oversized activities.

“People don’t have this scheduled into their day,” said Cameron Turner, one of the “makers” of the Day of Play. “We want to catch them off guard, show them that it is OK to have fun, even while working.”

The event consisted of many giant versions of commonly known games, from Jenga, Yahtzee and Dutch Blitz, to Scrabble and Snakes and Ladders. There was something for everyone.

“We are trying to encourage physical exercise as well as co-operation and a positive environment,” said Josh Bean, the co-ordinator of the event.

He said play is important, and can do so much more than just make you happy.

“It truly helps you out mentally,” Bean said. “You think critically, your brain is doing something different than normal and it relieves your stress by bringing you back to your roots.”

This event fulfills the “Peter Pan market,” where adults get nostalgic for their stress-free days of childhood. One example of this is the popularity of adult colouring books that have been sold worldwide since 2013.

U.S. author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown uses the metaphor of oxygen in his book Play saying, “… it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.”

Brown touches on the same aspects in his book that Bean and the other makers were aiming for in their Day of Play activities. Brown studied how the lack of play had as much to do with criminal behaviour at Texas prisons as did other factors such as abusive homes and the loss of family. He also found that couples who are no longer close have an opportunity to reconnect and gain different forms of emotional intimacy through play.

“If we can get people to slow down for even 15 minutes we consider that a success because that means there is 15 minutes where that person is not working and having fun,” Turner said.

Over the summer one event had approximately 200 people in attendance, however, construction on King Street did reduce the number of participants overall.

“We had a lot of families but most people didn’t stay long if there were machines going off.”

However, once people got into the games, many stayed for their whole lunch break or families spent the afternoon at the event.

On Sept. 21 the last Day of Play for 2016 came and went. The makers are already thinking of ways to improve and revamp next year’s events, hoping to continue to tap into the six-year-old inside of everyone.

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