The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) launched the Voice of Play Initiative in 2006 to educate the general public concerning the benefits of children's play and playgrounds.
As a nonprofit, trade organization, IPEMA was formed in 1995 to provide third-party validation of compliance to the safety standards of the ASTM International (ASTM) F1487. They have also been instrumental in fostering communication between the manufacturers in the playground industry and in promoting the quality and quantity of play opportunities and playground environments in general.
Eleven years later, through the Voice of Play, IPEMA was ready to expand this communication concerning playground safety and the importance of play with parents, teachers, educational organizations, and community groups. They hired Euro RSCG Worldwide PR to assist in establishing the Voice of Play through trade media, consumer media, a web presence, and social networking tools.
Tom Norquist, the President of IPEMA at that time, recruited well-known experts in the play industry to serve on the Board of Advisors, such as Joe Frost, Teri Hendy, and Ken Kutska. In 2011, Dr. Stuart Brown joined this Board of Advisors.1
Through the Voice of Play website, IPEMA communicates research findings that measure the “cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits of outdoor free play.”2 They also offer information on playground standards and safety certifications, a resource kit for parents, and a vehicle for asking play experts questions.
Also on the Voice of Play website is the Play Cafe, a resource center for play-related blogs, links to affiliated play and play safety associations, links to social networking sites, book reviews, videos, and a calendar of events.3 One such event is National Playground Safety Week, which is held every year in April. Annually, IPEMA and the Voice of Play offer “Top 5 Safety Tips for Playgrounds” to help parents and communities encourage safe play activities.4
The Parent Play Pledge is another initiative of the Voice of Play on their website. In signing the pledge, parents pledge to make play a priority for their children by committing to an hour of outdoor play each day.5 The Voice of Play also supports First Lady Michelle Obama's Let’s Move! campaign against childhood obesity.6
In 2008, the Voice of Play received the Joe L. Frost Play Advocacy Award, which honors organizations who “display excellence in promoting the benefits and importance of play.”7
- 1. “Board of Advisors.” Voice of Play. < http://voiceofplay.org/content.aspx?pID=12 > 19 June 2011.
- 2. Wetzel, Christina. Euro RSCG Worldwide PR. Email to Playground Professionals. 1 June 2011.
- 3. “Welcome to the Play Cafe.” Voice of Play. < http://playcafe.voiceofplay.org/ > 19 June 2011.
- 4. Op.cit. Wetzel, Christina.
- 5. “Play Pledge.” Voice of Play. < http://voiceofplay.org/public/uploads/playPledge.pdf > 19 June 2011.
- 6. Op.cit. Wetzel, Christina.
- 7. “Voice of Play Initiative Wins National Play Advocacy Award.” Playcore. < http://www.playcore.com/news/voice-of-play-initiative-wins-national-play-advocacy-award.html > 19 June 2011.