‘Canes4Play is a play initiative aimed at improving overall quality of life, reducing the incidence and prevalence of mental health concerns, and bolstering retention rates among University of Miami (UM) students. The program provides UM students with play-oriented programming and resources designed to enhance four dimensions of wellness: emotional, cognitive, physical, and social.
Examples of play programming include (note: some activities bridge multiple dimensions):
Emotional - journaling, stress-reduction arts and crafts (i.e. sock aromatherapy, stress balls), poetry, free-play (i.e. play dough, legos)
Cognitive - story telling, memory games, doodling, finger painting, board games
Physical - hula hoop, hopscotch, jump rope, team sports, obstacle courses
Social - team building activities, group music sessions, group games
Whether you have endless amounts of free time or operate on a tight schedule, there is always time for play! Check out the various ways to get involved in order of increasing levels of time commitment.
- Participate in ‘Canes4Play programming as an individual or with a group.
- Schedule a Play Date! Request a play program for your group.
- Use the ‘Canes4Play resource page to host your own play program.
- Make a play tutorial video for the ‘Canes4Play resource page.
- Become a play facilitator and lead play activities.
Play programming has shown promise as a means of addressing mental health concerns and improving well-being. Not only is play fun, but play activities trigger a release of endorphins that can relieve stress, transform negative emotions, and serve as a remedy for anxiety and depression. Play is believed to induce a state of ‘flow,’ a mental state that provides a perfect balance of challenge and opportunity, or relaxation and stimulation, which fosters a heightened sense of control and self-efficacy. In this state, students are able to practice mindfulness, in which they maintain nonjudgmental focus and awareness on the present moment, regaining perspective and keeping the stressors of the past and future at bay. Play also helps individuals connect with others and develop several skills (i.e. imagination, creativity, problem-solving, verbal communication, cooperation) that will serve them well in the classroom and in life. Overall, the play initiative will teach students that play is not just frivolous fun for children, but a wellness behavior that is as beneficial and important as eating well, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep throughout life.