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College of Social Work

Play Therapy Exhibit Wins First Place at Creativibe

Mar. 27, 2019
Chris Woodley •

One College of Social Work exhibit at the University of South Carolina’s inaugural Creativibe event on Saturday, Mar. 23 received accolades for focusing on play therapy.

Clinical Assistant Professor Patrice Penney and MSW student Lara Hayes won first prize for Best in Creativity Explored for their play therapy exhibit, “Play, the Brain, and Us.” The award was presented to the exhibit that best showcased originality, creativity, and had an engaging viewer experience.

“We entered the event just wanting to share our knowledge on the importance of fun in learning experiences but didn’t learn until later that it was a competition,” said Hayes. “First place was a wonderful surprise.”

Creativibe showcased more than 100 expressions of creativity and innovation from each school across the UofSC campus, including interdisciplinary collision, groundbreaking art and virtual reality. The event is billed as part festival, part competition, part think tank.

According to Psychology Today magazine, play therapy is defined as a psychotherapeutic approach used to help children freely express repressed thoughts. The goal is to help children express themselves in healthier ways, become more respectful and empathetic and discover new and more positive problem-solving solutions.

“Our exhibit highlighted the neuroscience of play as actively engaged, socially interactive, joyful and meaningful, with outcomes including enhanced memory and decision making, and improved attention and creativity,” said Penney. “There was interaction from toddlers to older adults, including children with special needs. We enjoyed having people of all ages engaged in creative, interactive play and showing how the brain and relational benefits are amazing.”

The exhibit included a walkway course with lines and spots on the ground using duct tape and other decals as well as balloons and hula hopes. According to Hayes, the obstacle of the course was that there were no directions. Participants were encouraged to be creative in how they chose to navigate the walkway.   

“While our presentation aimed to inform participants about the neuroscience of playful learning experiences, we also showcased the importance of leadership and the power of genuinely connecting with others,” said Hayes. “It was fun to watch participants hesitantly approach our exhibit, knowing they were likely going to be asked to run through our ‘obstacle course,’ and then radiate confidence after they were finished. We are thrilled that our exhibit was so successful.”

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.