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Good Start 2024 Keynote Speech by Dr. Esther Joosa: Building a Foundation for Inclusive Communities through Open-Ended Play (translation will be provided)


This presentation invites the audience to come together and think about what it means to build inclusive communities through open-ended play.


It begins with thoughts about who we are as part of a community, followed by insights into Open Minds, Open Doors, and a research and practice collaboration between Playeum and Arts of the Earth. Examples of this research highlight the importance of play in the lives of children with disabilities and their families as part of a community collaboration. The findings evolved in a framework of four pillars as the foundation for building community collaborations and four cornerstones as the necessary components for creating a play environment. The framework extends to creating opportunities for parent partnerships and growth through the professional development of early childhood educators, interventionists and special education staff and dialogue with community collaborators such as policymakers, researchers, educational organisations, community services such as libraries, and healthcare workers.


The insights were translated into two manuals to guide collaborations and partnerships with parents and children by sharing experiences, reflecting on perspectives, and expanding viewpoints on play.


In conclusion, building inclusive communities through play is not a magic potion. Instead, it requires trust, hard work, and open, respectful dialogue about what matters in education, adapting to change and building insights about play. By replacing the "I and You" with "We", we hope to bring today's audience one step closer to laying the foundation for an inclusive community, developing meaningful collaborations and working towards a shared future.

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