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Teaching Play in the Czech Republic and Japan

Posted by Gretchen Adams on September 23, 2015

Child Life faculty member Deb Vilas was invited to teach in the Czech Republic and Japan this summer. The invitations to teach abroad followed Deb's appearance as a key note speaker at the first Global Summit on Pediatric Psychosocial Care in May of 2014, hosted by the Child Life Council and sponsored by the Disney Corporation. Deb addressed delegates from 45 countries on the topic of play in hospitals.

The Klicek Foundation, the University of Shizuoka, and the Japanese Society of Hospital Play hosted her visits. She taught six workshops on play techniques in Prague, Nový Jičin, Shizuoka, Osaka and Tokyo. Her students included  hospital play specialists, nurses, nursing administrators, nursery nurses (early education professionals working in hospitals), psychologists, teachers, social workers, occupational and physical therapists and child life specialists. A Shizuoka newspaper covered her workshop at Shizuoka University where she covered her theory of "Play Needs Continuum" describing nine ways to deepen play opportunities for children in hospitals. 


As Deb describes, "The students were so willing and playful that the eight hours flew by each day. I have no doubt that children will be playing their hearts out throughout hospitals in Japan where these folks are training and working." In the Czech Republic, she was met with the same enthusiasm as they rolled up their sleeves for some interactive play. Sharing stories and experiences, Deb noted the obstacles in the Czech Republic "are similar to our own, but the profession is less established…so they struggle to advocate for very basic parent and child rights in hospitals."

Read more about her teaching adventures on her blog at The Child Life program at Bank Street College prepares students to work with children and their families who are living with the realities of chronic and acute illness, surgery, trauma, injuries and disabilities. Students learn developmentally meaningful ways of working with children and families in healthcare and community settings.

tagged: child life, deb vilas, graduate school, play, teach abroad