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Playful Ways of Learning Good Human Conduct

Jillian Murphy

2020 Irving and Jeanne Glovin Award Winner


Jillian Murphy

Benefits of Play

It is a marvel people choose to exist side-by-side, living in bustling urban areas as societal norms and expectations are extensive. The ways in which people learn these essential nuances of human interaction are endless. This paper will explore one way in which good human conduct can be developed, through play. In this paper good human conduct will refer to pro-social behaviour, while play will include any activities freely sought out for the primary purpose of enjoyment. It is important to appreciate play in its various forms. Play is voluntary and for this reason it is often undervalued in comparison to more obligatory activities such as education, employment, and civil duties. Play is more than frivolous, low stake activity used to for enjoyment, entertainment, and to pass time. Play should be appreciated for its numerous positive consequences including, and extending far beyond, fun. Seeking and partaking in pleasurable activities as a child or as an adult, be them solitary or group based, hold enduring benefits. Play allows for important self-exploration; play as development, play as self-realization, and play’s role in creativity will all be discussed. Play activities offer opportunities for the current self that can lead to impressive personal growth. Armed with a stronger sense of self people are more equipped to empathetically relate to others. The ability to understand and connect with other people allows for the formation of collective identity and communities. The last two sections of this paper explore just that; play as building sociable skills and play as community forming. Every form of play has beneficial aspects. A predominant feature of all these aspects is the development of humanitarian attitudes. Play allows for human development, self-realization, creativity, sociability, and community all of which encourage a stronger sense of respect and acceptance for oneself and others. These favorable outcomes of play and their link to the principles of good human conduct will be grounded in concrete examples. This paper strives to employ a diverse offering of play activities for consideration.

Play and Human Development

Play is the foundation of social skills development within children and the benefits of play continue into adulthood. Good human conduct is rooted in childhood development practices and teachings. Most parents aspire to raise happy and healthy offspring. The underlying purpose of parenting literature takes one step further and encourages parents to ask, how can I raise productive members of society? To eventually contribute to a community a young person must first gain civility skills. Similarly, educators hope to mold young minds that will eventually leave the classroom and actively contribute to development of the next generation of valuable societal members. The basics of a young learner’s day is pro-social behavioural teachings and reinforcement cloaked in sing-song cues and play. How children “adapt and develop through their play” is of the utmost interest to adults, both parents and educators, who hope to harness and repackage the valuable learning opportunities of play (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 9). Interactive activities and projects that hold important lessons are widely shared amongst parents and educators. Children playing is viewed as a naturally occurring evolution, the urge to track play as a tool and to promote the advancement of a child’s “developmental stages” is a more recent phenomenon (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 35). The onslaught of play studies is constantly directing and subsequently redirecting parents and educators’ efforts to enhance a child’s play environment. Each new study’s suggested enhancements seek to achieve beneficial outcomes for children. Although the onslaught of information is potentially overwhelming it is very encouraging to see play’s supported and respected role in childhood development. These shifting ideologies have led to many play trends through the years. An effort to reclaim less structured and sterilized play environments has emerged. These more rugged play locations are physically challenging and require cooperation amongst the children to manipulate the play structure to their imagination. Communication and social skills development are vital for children and definitely present in malleable play areas. Two such examples of rugged play areas are, the Physical Literacy in the Early Years (PLEY) Project and The Land.

Dalhousie researchers in the Faculty of Health’s School of Health and Human Performance and Healthy Populations Institute created the PLEY Project to “spread the message about the value of children’s unstructured play” and to “equip parents, educators, and the public with the understanding of how to support outdoor play – with its risk – to optimize children’s development (Smith & Stone, 2019). The PLEY Project “aims to facilitate unstructured, active and risky outdoor play among Nova Scotian preschoolers”, children ages three to five years old (Joshi et al., 2019, p. 14). Loose parts playgrounds were introduced to schools around Nova Scotia; the PLEY Project gave starter kits to participating schools. These loose parts kits consisted of “open-ended, natural or synthetic materials that can be moved, manipulated, staked, carried and/or combined in various ways” (Joshi et al., 2019, p.14). The kits included various items such as; “recycled tires and buckets, to twigs and pinecones, to fabric or planks of wood” (Joshi et al., 2019, p.14). The focus of this play is “real-world learning” and engagement fostering socially positive skills; “problem-solving skills, participation, socializing and creative thinking” all through increased physical literacy (Joshi et al., 2019, p.14). By truly deconstructing the play environment children are given greater opportunity to learn from their play. These materials do not serve one clear function and as such can be crafted and played with in numerous ways pushing children to better understand their abilities and limits, also known as their physical literacy. The opportunity to fall and pick oneself back up, correct the materials positioning and try again is the trial and error children need to form much needed problem-solving skills. The ability to problem-solve in group play times, such a recess, requires strong communication skills allowing children to also learn how best to work with their peers. The PLEY Project creates unstructured play spaces that bear a resemblance to adventure playgrounds.

In the immediate aftermath of the second world war there was a movement toward adventure playgrounds in the United Kingdom. Similar to loose-parts play, adventure playgrounds provide materials for children to create and construct their play environment themselves. A stark contrast to the traditionally fixed structures found in most school and park playgrounds. One such playground is The Land in Plas Madoc, a housing estate in North Wales. To the unaware passerby The Land looks like a sparse junkyard set atop a mud pit. To the children who play there it is a world of opportunity. In the United Kingdom housing estates refer to large-scale public housing built in the years following World War II (Housing Estate, n.d.). The housing estate where The Land is located is in an area that has battled economic disparity for years and has some of the worst child poverty rates in all of Wales (Bagnall & McGee, 2019). The Land was featured in a documentary film of the same name. This film explores the “nature of play, risk and hazard” (Westervelt, 2015). The filmmaker, Erin Davis, spent three weeks immersed in the magic of child’s play and truly captured “why it’s important for kids to wave their wild-play flags high” (Westervelt, 2015). The Land, and other adventure playgrounds, provide children with a safe and supervised space for risky play, “an endangered human behaviour” (Davis, 2015). The play ambassadors, playground staffers, are trained in the concepts of dignity of risk and right to fail. One play ambassador noted; “when you feel uncomfortable that should not inform your next move” (Davis, 2015). In the age of helicopter parents, those who are insistent on hovering within rescue distance, and lawnmower parenting, the practice of removing all obstacles from a child’s path, The Land embraces a child’s ability to self-monitor and assess situations. In The Land children have access to any number of tools and can request fire starting materials from play ambassadors. The opportunity to experiment, fail, and try again utilizing new information in child’s play is relatively safe. Where else can people learn from failure with minimal consequences? Learning to fail is a skill in and of itself. Unfortunately, a skill that many youngsters have not had the opportunity to grasp within the safety of childhood leaving them ill equipped for the harsh realities of consequences in adulthood. Play can lead to development, by allowing opportunities for independence, and this human development is much needed for the creation of resilient adults with risk taking skills that contribute to an advancing society.

Play as Self-Realization

Play creates opportunity for internal growth and the creation of self-identity, both of which are important facets of good human conduct. Personal growth can guide an individual toward self-realization. “The successful pursuit of one’s ambitions and values in accord with one’s talents and abilities” is to self-realize (Eagle, 2013, p. 20). In short, it is to fulfill one’s own potential. Self-realization is often represented as a serious and solitary undertaking; however, self-realization can be both fun and disciplined through play. With this is mind suddenly partaking in playful endeavors are appreciated as worthwhile (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 182). Play for the self speaks to activities where the individual “is taken over by the things that are serious within the game, regardless of how serious that same game is estimated to be in the eyes of the nonplaying worlds” (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 182). The “holistic sensation present when we act with total involvement” is called flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p. 136). For flow to be achieved concentration on a “limited stimulus field” must be present, the individual must be pushed to their fullest ability, but not beyond it, and the action of working through the activity results in a release of problems while allowing for a sense of “control over the environment” (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p.135). Playful activities that are also challenging enough for instances of flow creates personal understanding and boundary pushing at a very intimate level. Good human conduct must first start with the self. Learning to treat others with respect must start with self-respect. Accordingly, once an individual is able to accept himself/herself, he/she is better equipped to offer acceptance to others. “A primary function of the self is to integrate one person’s actions with that of others, and hence it is a perquisite for social life” (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p.141). Good human conduct is found when an individual is able to accommodate others into their activities and by extension their lives. Instances of true engrossment, flow, create an awareness of self and the opportunity to build self-respect and acceptance. These moments are seen in the experiences of shag dancers and rock climbers who find moments to fully immerse within their sport and focus solely on the task at hand.

There are many opportunities for dancers to grow as individuals and to experience flow. This holds true for the regional dance of the United States of America’s South Carolina, shagging, known for its “languid sensuality” between partners (Brown, 2007, p. 624). The dance is a serious form of leisure that has captured a strong and dedicated following. Carroll Brown studied why this dance held such a “long term commitment and involvement” from its participants (2007, p. 626). Across skill levels many focus on striving for improvement. “I’m doing it because I want to be good at it” (Brown, 2007, p. 632). The ability to learn about oneself through the dance is also apparent amongst those shaggers working to progress their skills. As Danny shared; “The shag has also been good for me on a competitive level to learn to drive myself and to learn how to be better at whatever I’m doing. I loved competing in it. That was fun” (Brown, 2007, p. 626). By pushing his boundaries within the world of shag Danny found he was more able to advance in other areas of his life. The “considerable personal effort” required by shag is clear and the dancer’s exhibit pride in their dance pursuit but also more broadly in their tenacity (Brown, 2007, p. 641). Despite the hard work Danny clearly also appreciates the opportunity for play. “When we match our developed skills with clear challenges, we are most likely to have that deeply involving experience” (Kelly & Freysinger, 2000, p. 108). Instances of “peak involvement”, or flow, that allow an individual to hone in on a moment of activity, in this case dancing, is also a factor keeping shaggers “hooked” (Brown, 2007, p. 644 & 623). Many activities and forms of play provide opportunities for the perfect amount of challenge and thus flow. Another such example is rock climbing.

Not dissimilar to dancing, rock climbing is a play activity that allows an individual to focus on their own abilities but has lasting impacts on a participant’s life beyond the activity. Individuals are able to grow in positive, social ways as a result of their discipline. In another case of serious leisure research nineteen female climbers were studied to understand their commitment to the sport through their “relationship between climbing and the women’s wider lives” (Dilley & Scraton, 2010, p. 125). These women ranged from elite to novice climbers and included climbers from various climbing mediums; traditional, sport, bouldering, winter, ice and mixed, Alpine and high -altitude mountaineering (Dilley & Scraton, 2010, p. 129-130). In addition to interviews the participants also kept climbing diaries (Dilley & Scraton, 2010, p. 130). From this data it is clear the climbers pursued their sport “systematically, demonstrated perseverance, acquired specialist skills and knowledge” and benefited from the creation of spaces “to ‘be’” (Dilley & Scraton, 2010, p. 130). When a climber is able to be fully present in a moment and to move with reflexive ability, rather than conscious thought, they are achieving flow. The next movement is described as “automatic…. it just happens” (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p.142). The climbing route must be challenging to achieve the “moving in harmony with something else” in this case nature; the rock and weather conditions. However, the individual must have “adequate” skills to successfully complete the activity (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p. 142). The conversion of the activity and self, “you don’t see yourself as separate from what you are doing” is so complete an internal peace, as well as, harmony with the environment is found in those feelings of “total involvement” (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p. 139 & 142). Leisure is regularly labeled as frivolous but in reality, it is an important form of play. As noted by the climbers in Dilley and Scraton’s research, climbing embodied an “obsessive form of commitment” (2010, p. 132). As “desirable” personal activities are pursued with “attention” an individual will realize opportunities to become more self-aware and well-rounded (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 11). This is evident in activities such as dance and climbing, both of which establish space for thoughtful pursuit of goals needed for participants to achieve self-realization.

Play as Creativity

Play is celebrated for its flexible nature and this opportunity for creativity building is a key determinate of good human conduct. It has been stated that the “imagination mediates between sensory knowledge and formal reasoning” (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 131). In considering the negotiation between what is concrete and what an individual is aware of, creativity is able to shine. The tangible and the intangible knowing are taught, in part, through formal teaching but this relationship is predominantly understood from learned experiences. Flexibility of thought leads to innovative individuals not only ready for, but also capable of, challenging the world around them. Play activities that nourish an individual’s imagination and rewards the creative is essential to the growth of thought-provoking adults willing to lead and promote development within society. The world needs individuals able to harness creativity and play allows for this. Without creative play a formative element of good human conduct would be lost. Innovation is a skill informed from experience. Hence, incorporating creativity and fun into learning is imperative as it fosters a love for knowledge and understanding, much needed skills. People naturally gravitate back to that which they enjoy, making play a wonderful learning tool. Creative and flexible play is seen within the hand clapping games of young, largely female, school age children as well as adults pursing informal arts.

The enduring school yard games of hand clapping are beautifully depicted in the documentary film Let’s Get the Rhythm. The film features archival footage from around the world but focuses on the stories and experiences of girls living in communities within New York City and New Jersey (Stefano, 2017). Irene Chagall sought “to bring attention to the often overlooked, but robust traditions among young girls” (Stefano, 2017). She was drawn to hand-clapping for its longevity and remarkable transference across diverse cultures (Stefano, 2017). These games are an oral tradition, passed down from generation to generation, and are seen to reflect the intersect between the culture of children and the adult world they live in. These beats and rhymes were created in school yards and although many have preserved through the decades each new generation of keepers of these games is able to add their personal touch. Once the basic, entry level hand clapping patterns are mastered the girls are seen to tweak, modify, and merge the songs to add additional challenging elements and increase the fun (Chagall, 2014). The creativity and ability of these girls is phenomenal. The children describe these games as “easier to play than explain” and eagerly show-off their skills (Chagall, 2014). Finding the rhythm and then playing within it with such intricacy highlights the capabilities of these girls. The girls work together and with each new hand-clapping mastery or creation they have strengthened their imaginative muscles. In a world that holds tightly to the modern and positive attitudes toward creativity these girls are gaining so much more than joy and warm hands. As they continue to flex and create, they are learning the innovative skill of finding their own beat.

Informal arts come in various forms. They can be solitary, group, spontaneous, amateur, and/or highly commercialized activities. With such an exciting array of artistic forms to consider, the research team from the Chicago Center for Arts Policy and Columbia College Chicago explored how individuals came to view themselves as artists and the impact their art had on their lives on the whole (Walie et al., 2001, p. 216). While studying the social impact of informal arts in Chicago communities the broadness of this “continuum” of creative expression was appreciated (Wali et al., 2001, p. 212). The expansive definition of informal arts encompasses the impromptu to the highly structured and with such a wide berth of activities included the informal arts as a form of play that is highly accessible (Wali et al., 2001, p. 212 & 216). One such group, a drum circle located in a park near Chicago’s southwest side welcomes all to join and create music. Corey, a drum circle participant, shared a memory of the first time he joined a drumming event:

There were drums everywhere. It was a spontaneous thing. In the streets and just hanging out playing drums. There were always drums floating around. It was great because you didn’t have to be good because no one was listening intently. So it was a good way to grow. (Wali et al., 2001, p. 221)

Corey’s experience portrays whimsy and play that is rarely found in adulthood. From that opportunity of pure fun he was able to release any pressure he places on himself to perfect the activity and rather learn by doing and creating. Alike hand-clapping drumming requires a set of base skills and techniques but once acquired allows participants to play within a rhythm and explore their creativity whole heartily. The “intersection between art and everyday life” can be found in the positive and enduring effects of play that informal arts has on the self (Walie et al., 2001, p. 213). Creativity from play teaches flexibility to individuals and in our ever-changing world the ability to adapt is a critical skill needed to thrive. As individuals strengthen their flexibility of thought they become innovators. This is an illustration of skills “transferable to civic life” from the playful participation in drum circles.

Play as Sociable

Play as giving room to develop sociability with others is paramount to good human conduct. The ability to live with others peacefully hinges on the ability to empathize with others. The social skill of emotional intelligence is the crux of good human behaviour and can be learned through various forms of play. Shared experience allows play to be utilized as “forms of bonding” (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 91). The commonality found in play can build shared understanding but the need to cooperate is only one facet of sociability. Humans have a basic need to connect to others. For an individual’s overall well-being learning how to bond with others is fundamental. Through emotional understanding, and basic social skills, passing companionships or powerful, long-standing relationships can be formed, both of which are important. As social creatures the ability to build and maintain relationships is key to the human condition. This can allow for the creation of larger social networks which will be touched on in a more in-depth manner in the next benefit of play section, play and community. Sociability is the precursor to community building and meaningful to all as the only effective way to combat social isolation. In addition to community building sociability must be present for understanding of cultural norms within specific regions. Many norms and socially acceptable behaviours are unique to geographical realms. Good human conduct is in the eye of the beholder. Dependent on where in the world an individual, is the socially acceptable values will vary greatly. The importance of play to friendship fostering is evident in The Red Hat Society. Sociable play can offer more than just group play opportunities, it can also teach national values, as seen through inclusive recreational badminton.

The Red Hat Society is a self-professed “playgroup” for women “created to connect like-minded women, make new friends and enrich lives through the power of fun and friendship” (RHS, n.d.). Red Hat Society outings are easily identified by their members distinctive outfits. All members who have “attained the fabulous age of 50” wear red hats and purple clothing while those under 50 wear pink hats and lavender clothing (RHS, n.d.). The group has chapters around the globe and the organizations purpose, regardless of location, is simple fun and play. Through planned play and leisure activities members are creating friendships with enduring value. Studies show “individuals who maintain positive social relations across their life course have higher psychological well-being” (Chang & Yarnal, 2018, p. 92). The Red Hat Society members “provide social support to and perceive social support from each other, which supports their well-being” (Chang & Yarnal, 2018, p. 93). As discussed, humans are social beings and the need to connect is indispensable. The Red Hat Society seeks to reach a frequently disenfranchised subsection of society; women in their mid-life, many of whom have previously prioritized their careers, families, and community over their own needs for play and connection. Through silly antics, such as the Red Hat Society ‘uniform’ these women are bonded in camaraderie and play. Pursuing friendship and belonging is important at all ages, as seen in the parallels this women’s group has to a youth sports league.

Following World War II the Danish government’s shifted economic focus from wartime issues to other components of the nation, including voluntary sports associations for children and youth (Anderson, 2003, p. 24). In Denmark the sociability ideals of “universality and inclusive social fellowship” are demonstrated within children’s recreational badminton (Anderson, 2003, p. 23). There is also an expectation to maintain “an element of ‘fun and play’ (leg)” within sport play to impart the “moral theme in Danish sport pedagogy at all levels of play” (Anderson, 2003, p. 36). It was seen as the “social responsibility” of sport organizations to provide athletic opportunities to typically marginalized groups within Copenhagen (Anderson, 2003, p. 26). This particular sport project, badminton, offered within an economically disadvantage neighbourhood not only offers social play opportunities for youth but the welcoming aspect of the group in itself teaches the virtues of inclusion. The “serious fun” provided an encouraging environment and the inclusive ambition was often blatantly enforced (Anderson, 2003, p. 37). The coach, Katrina, openly told children “if they wanted to be here they would have to play with some of the others too” (Anderson, 2003, p. 38). These “inclusive ground rules” had positive results and one child noted the environment of tolerance; “The best thing about badminton is that when you play at a meet, your mates back you up” (Anderson, 2003, p. 38 & 34). Learning how to engage with others, empathetically respond and support peers within a social group is a vital pro-social behaviour. Through sport play these Danish children are learning so much more than just badminton; rather they are developing their social skills and learning their cultures values system. Relationship building, be it through sport, organized social groups, or another form of play all enhance an individual’s ability to connect and build lasting support networks. The social advantages of play transitions smoothly into our last benefit of play, community building, because shared interests and values amongst a group quickly forms a community.

Play and Community

Play as community building is plays most essential contribution to good human conduct. The “play tradition is seen as a means of confirming, maintaining, or advancing the power and identity of the community of players” (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 10). The shared social act builds from sociable connections to cement the individuals as community members. When social “bonding” is solidified by group activity all players gain a community, and all the positive benefits that come with, not only a sense of belonging but, supporters in times of trial (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 91). To be ‘neighborly’ is not only desirable good human conduct but in a world of uneven distribution of resources nothing short of necessary. Play allows for fun and light hearted establishment of much needed human associations. Social isolation affects the health of individuals and community play projects such as community gardens can help build participants resilience against this serious issue (Kinglsey & Townsend, 2006, p. 525). In contrast, large form community events, when done right, can surpass collective activity creating a “moment in and out of time” and become a celebration of communitas (Turner, 1977, p. 96). Communitas gives “recognition to an essential and generic human bond” and as such sees a leveling of all players, regardless of day-to-day formal hierarchical structure (Turner, 1977, p. 97). Communities are very important to individual survival and as such are key to societal structure. Festivals are a wonderful form of community building. The Parkes Elvis Festival creates “public excitement, merriment, and freedom from work” but also, very often, communitas (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 108).

Urban decline and the negative narratives associated with the neighbourhoods left behind can stigmatize communities and disempower residents. Troy Glover shares the story of the Queen Anne Memorial Garden, an urban garden project located in the Midwestern United States in a mid-sized city and the garden’s role in challenging the negative changes, such as crime through the creation of a “compelling counter-narrative” (Glover, 2003, p. 190). The garden became a gathering point in the neighborhood and helped participants to shift their perception of the community. Play in the form of gardening builds neighborly connections and strengthens bonds:

Community garden initiatives provide disenfranchised individuals with opportunities to join a group effort… [and] are often more about the community than they are about gardening. They offer places where people can gather, network, and identify together as residents of a neighbourhood. (Glover, 2003, p. 192)

Gardens can produce tangible assets in the form of food that can be used to supplement participants diets and lessen their grocery bills. However, the immaterial benefits are often immeasurable for community building, particularly for neighbourhoods combating marginalization.

Playful festivity has a significant role in community building. Festivals allows for large gatherings of people with shared celebratory motivations creating opportunity for communitas and memory making. This is exemplified in the Elvis Revival Festival located in the small rural town of Parkes, Australia. Notably, Elvis Presley never visited Parkes, in fact, he never set foot in Australia at all. However, an enthusiastic Elvis fan and Parkes resident created a commemorative festival posthumously celebrating the rocker’s birthday. Researchers conducted fieldwork at the 2003 and 2004 festivals exploring the ways in which the Elvis Revival Festival builds community and combats the economic decline experienced by this rural Australia town (Brennan-Horley, 2007, p. 72). Bringing the community together through Elvis impersonators and campy celebration was unconventional but astoundingly successful. The festival has created such notoriety it now provides substantial tourism value for the town (Brennan-Horley, 2007, p. 71 & 76). The presence of the festival addresses economic decline experienced by the community while also offering an opportunity for residents and visitors alike to connect through play in a “celebration of tackiness and kitsch” (Brennan-Horley, 2007, p. 75). The whimsy of the festival allows participants to “transcend daily life and bring a range of meanings to individual lives”, otherwise known as communitas (Brennan-Horley, 2007, p. 79). The festival creates a temporary community of all the participants but also forms a special bond amongst residents involved in the event planning.


This paper draws a direct link between play and good human conduct. Society would benefit from a strong understanding of this connection as, unfortunately, play rarely receives the respect it deserves. Good human conduct can be learned and then nurtured through play. Significant opportunities to advance good human conduct are lost by inadequately fostering play in the life of a child or an adult. In our technologically tethered world individuals are busier than ever. Learning and work are never truly done for the day. How can play be appreciated if there is simply no time left in a day? The ability of children to “adapt and develop” exemplifies the power play has on development (Sutton-Smith, 1997, p. 9). Play is leading to growth within the self. Additionally, the flexible nature of play allows for creativity hopefully creating system challenging individuals. Play activities provide an opportunity to learn social skills as well as for sociability. Finally, play is community building with the potential to create moments of true communitas. Play is multifaceted and the activities referenced as forms of play in this paper are versatile. Any single play activity referenced can be easily applicable to more than one of the five benefits of play outlined. Play is such a dynamic concept; it ebbs and flows through cultures and time but at its core it spreads joy and learning. There are infinite ways in which an individual can learn good human conduct but if you had to choose, wouldn’t you rather play?



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Jillian Murphy completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Minor in Business from Dalhousie University and is currently pursuing a certificate in Disability Management from Dalhousie’s School of Occupational Therapy. She took a wandering road to complete her undergraduate degree but during her hiatus years built a career within inclusive employment. Jillian credits her years working at a non-profit providing education and employment supports to adults with intellectual disabilities at the University of Calgary and Calgary’s St. Mary’s University, with motivating her to return to her academics.

As a more mature and driven student Jillian was very excited to participate in the The Irving and Jeanne Glovin Award competition and truly honored her piece was selected. Working with adults of varying abilities cemented the true importance of play for her. It is so easy to forget our need for fun! Jillian currently lives in Halifax working at the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia and Autism Nova Scotia. Her favorite play activities include; biking, climbing, and celebrating loved ones!


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Playful Ways of Learning Good Human Conduct by Jillian Murphy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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