The nonprofit Alliance for Childhood was formed in 1999 out of concern about children's declining health and well-being. Composed of educators, health professionals, and advocates for children, the Alliance “promotes policies and practices that support children's healthy development, love of learning, and joy in living.”1
The Alliance focuses on the importance of restoring creative play and hands-on activities for children, examining assumptions about the benefits of their use of advanced technologies, educating the public about inappropriate uses of standardized tests, protecting children from increasingly commercialized media entertainment, and promoting education for peace.2
As a natural extension of their work in restoring free play and reducing screen time in childhood, in 2003 the Alliance hosted a briefing for the U.S. Senate on childhood obesity. Combining the expertise of doctors, chefs, and educators, they linked the rise of obesity with the rise of computer time and the decline of outdoor play time.3
The Alliance awards grants to research institutions; publishes research reports, policy briefs, fact sheets, and books; hosts conferences and lectures; and issues position statements.
It supports the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and has joined in urging the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to propose limiting screen time in its position statements on technology and young children.4
Since 2004 the Alliance has been promoting the profession of playwork, which was previously little known in the United States. Playworkers support children’s open-ended, imaginative, and inclusive play without directing or controlling it. For several years the Alliance has brought Penny Wilson, a London playworker, to the United States to help introduce playwork and adventure playgrounds, which have long been popular in Europe, to parks departments, museums, and schools. The Alliance is also working with universities in New York to create professional programs in playwork studies.5
In 2007 the Alliance collaborated with Elizabeth Goodenough on a public awareness campaign for the PBS documentary Where Do the Children Play? Goodenough, who authored Secret Spaces of Childhood, which inspired the documentary, edited the original study guide and later the expanded second edition guide published by the Alliance in 2010.6
Believing that play initiated and directed by children “enhances cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development and well-being,” the Alliance for Childhood works with other concerned organizations to restore free play in childhood.7 Policy briefs such as “The Loss of Children's Play: a Public Health Issue,” fact sheets such as “Time for Play, Every Day,” and reports such as “Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School” are examples of the Alliance's work to advocate play for all children.8
Based in New York City, the Alliance for Childhood has also partnered with international Alliance organizations in Brazil, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, and with the European Alliance for Childhood based in Brussels, Belgium.9
The Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) and Alliance for Childhood joined together to launch a 10-year initiative, the Decade for Childhood 2012-2022, during the Global Summit on Childhood held in Washington, D.C. in March of 2012. Concerns about the rapid cultural and technological changes currently occurring combined with the ongoing problems of poverty, neglect, and abuse prompted the need for a platform to support a global conversation about childhood and the threats to the healthy development of children.10
- 1. “About Us.” Alliance for Childhood. <http://www.alllianceforchildhood.org/about_us> 27 Feb. 2011.
- 2. “Critical Issues Affecting Childhood.” Alliance for Childhood. <http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/our_work> 27 Feb. 2011.
- 3. Ibid.
- 4. Research and Advocacy.” Alliance for Childhood. <http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/> 27 Feb. 2011.
- 5. “Resources: Parenting Articles, Where Do the Children Play?” think-ets, the tiny trinket game of imaginative play! <http://www.think-a-lot.com/resources/where-do-children-play.html> 3 June 2011.
- 6. Ibid.
- 7. Op.cit., “Critical Issues Affecting Childhood.”
- 8. “Publications.” Alliance for Childhood. <http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/publications> 27 Feb. 2011.
- 9. “Contact Us.” Alliance for Childhood. <http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/contact_us> 27 Feb. 2011.
- 10. “The Decade for Childhood.” Association for Childhood Education International. < http://www.acei.org/programs-initiatives/the-decade-for-childhood-2011-2021.html > 11 April 2012.