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On each of the four days of the conference there was a keynote speech by a leading play related expert.

View video clips of their keynote speeches

Bob Hughes

Bob Hughes runs Play Education and has been a playworker since 1970. He has lectured all over the world and currently works as a playwork writer, trainer and researcher. He was the first managing editor of the International Play Journal and was awarded a prize winning MA in Playwork Development Studies in 2001. 

Bob is the author of numerous books and papers including The First Claim … a framework for playwork quality assessment, A Playworker’s Taxonomy of Play Types, Play Environment: A Question of Quality, Evolutionary Playwork and Reflective Analytic Practice, and PlayTypes: Speculations and Possibilities. He has also contributed Chapters in Fraser Brown’s Playwork Theory and Practice and Jambor and Van Gils’ Several Perspectives on Children’s Play.

Brian Sutton-Smith

Brian Sutton-Smith is a play theorist who has spent his lifetime attempting to discover the cultural significance of play in human life, arguing that any useful definition of play must apply to both adults and children. Brian’s interdisciplinary approach has included research into play history and cross cultural studies of play.

Following the completion of his PhD in Wellington, New Zealand, Brian travelled to the USA on grant from the Fullbright Program, where he began an academic career with a focus on children’s games, adult games, children’s play, children’s gender issues and sibling position,

Brian is the author of some 50 books, The Ambiguity of Play being among the most recognisable and praised. Following his donation of an archive of nearly half a century of academic play research Brian was appointed as a Scholar in Residence at the Strong National Museum of Play in New York.

Keith Towler

Keith Towler is the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. Prior to taking up the post in March 2008, Keith was programme director for the Wales Programme of Save the Children for two years and chair of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Monitoring Group for Wales. 

Keith was born in London and came to Wales as a young child when the family moved to Cardiff. He graduated from Exeter University with a degree in Fine Arts and then became a social work assistant with South Glamorgan County Council. His career path has given him a strong background in youth work, youth justice and children’s rights.

Lothar Krappmann

In 2003, Lothar Krappmann was appointed one of 18 members of the UN Committee for Children's Rights. In 2007 he was re-appointed for another four years.

Until 2001, Lothar was part of the research staff at the Max-Planck-Institute for Education Research in Berlin where he focused on socialisation theory, social and moral development of children in middle childhood, children's peer interactions, relationships and groups, on the links between family and peer relationships, on day-care institutions and on observational research methodology on children's rights.

Marc Bekoff

Marc Bekoff is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado and a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. In 2000 he was awarded the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society for major long-term contributions to the field of animal behavior.

Marc has published over 200 scientific and popular essays and 22 books including: Animals at Play: Rules of the Game (an award-winning children's book), Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (with Jessica Pierce), and the Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships.

Following the conference Marc wrote an article about his experiences - Play, Play, and Play Some More: Let Children be the Animals They Have the Right to Be

Sudeshna Chatterjee

Sudeshna Chatterjee is a Delhi-based practicing architect and urban designer and a pioneer in the field of design and planning of children’s environments and facilities in India. She is also consulted internationally for formulation of policies on child friendly cities, for assessing impacts of urban interventions and strategies on children, and for addressing the interests and needs of children in planning and design of cities. Sudeshna has a PhD in Design from North Carolina State University in USA focusing on the design and planning of children’s environments.

Sudeshna is a partner in the firm of Kaimal Chatterjee & Associates (New Delhi), which practices architecture, urban design and contributes to design research. Sudeshna has been involved in the design of several schools with both NGO and corporate clients. These schools have evolved as very special child friendly places with great feedback from clients and users. Sudeshna had the opportunity to extend the notion of child friendly places which she developed as a concept in her PhD dissertation in her most celebrated work—the urban design for the new capital city of Chhattisgarh, Naya Raipur which has been envisaged as a green, equitable city where the urban realm, in addition to negotiating the issues of identity and power associated with a capital city, responds to the everyday needs of all citizens, and particularly needs of women, children, and people with different abilities.

Wendy Russell and Stuart Lester 

Stuart Lester is a Senior Lecturer in Playwork at the University of Gloucestershire and an independent playwork trainer and adviser. He has worked for over twenty years as a playwork practitioner, with a particular focus on adventure playgrounds and outdoor play. Recent publications include Play, naturally – a review of children’s playful relationship with natural spaces (with Martin Maudsley).

Wendy Russell started her first adventure playground job in 1975. She has worked in playwork ever since, in a number of roles, including playworker, play officer, play researcher and playwork trainer. Currently, she divides her time between being Senior Lecturer in Playwork at the University of Gloucestershire, working freelance, and her own research into play and playwork.

The presentation introduces the main themes of Stuart Lester and Wendy Russell's paper - Children's Right to Play: An examination of the importance of play in the lives of children - commissioned by the IPA and published by the Bernard van Leer Foundation. 


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