Melissa Pearce, owner of Rediscover Play, said she often brings “the mess” to her clients in an attempt to help kids, parents, schools and other organizations incorporate “more risky” play.
“I’ve really just been coming to realize how beneficial [play] is and I started doing tons of research on it. I thought, ‘I just really need to encourage others and advocate for this,’” she said.
Pearce added the idea has taken off and she has hosted various demonstrations and pop-ups for organizations wanting to learn more about the style of play she promotes.
“A lot of schools and centres want to bring this element in, but it’s kind of messy and you need storage – a lot of them don’t just don’t have the space or the training,” she said. “That’s where I was thinking, ‘Why can’t I bring this to them?’ I bring the mess.”
Rediscover Play, according to Pearce, utilizes a variety of materials, such as cardboard, giant tubes, PVC pipes, pools – which reduces boundaries around what “should” be built or how the objects “should” be used.
“It astounds me every time, and I’ve been doing this for years. I’m always amazed at the creative abilities of kids,” she said. “When you step back a little bit and just let them go, it’s phenomenal. There hasn’t been a time yet where I haven’t been surprised by what they’ve done or what they’ve taught me.”
Pearce said an added benefit comes from the parental supervision – required as a safety precaution for the program.
“I like to get parents engaged and have them play with their kids and be creative with their kids – but not directing them – having them be directed by their kids [and] just getting excited about what they’re doing, and encouraging them, and being involved in it,” she said.
Pearce will bring her style of play to New Horizon Mall (NHM), July 20 and 21, with the pop-up play days called Loose Parts. The event takes place from 12 to 4 p.m. both days, and invites children aged five to 12 to participate in the free activities.
“I would encourage people to come out. NHM is a pretty amazing and a unique concept itself. I’m honoured that they’ve asked for me to come in and share my business there,” she said.
Alex Winn, NHM marketing manager, said the mall is excited to host Loose Parts as part of NHM’s mandate to add new experiences for shoppers.
“Not only do we want to be a truly unique retail experience, but we also want to build community connections while serving the community as a destination for entertainment,” she said. “We look forward to encouraging that type of open-ended learning and imaginative thinking that comes with this type of play.”