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Innovation Infusion Review: Susan Hutchinson

On April 8th, 2016, the World Leisure Centre of Excellence at VIU hosted the Innovation Infusion Series event with guest speaker Dr. Susan Hutchinson presenting on Cultivating the Power of People, Place and Play for Healthy Communities.

Dr. Hutchinson gave an engaging talk by asking the audience to interpret images and to give feedback on certain questions. She introduced the concept of ‘’third places’’, which are basically informal meeting places (e.g. coffee shops and bookstores) where people build their “sense of community”. In addition, play activities are responsible for creating a sense of connection to the place on top of promoting fun and enjoyment. Through experiments, Susan concluded that oftentimes adults are not comfortable enough to play and that the term ‘’play’’ itself is often misunderstood as exclusive to youth, especially children.

In fact, play activities tend to be more limited to the aging group. However, Dr. Hutchinson argued that places such as senior centers should be designed to become ‘’third places’’ for the elderly by providing them with opportunities to have fun, to actively participate and to contribute to their own community.

Furthermore, she talked about the “science of happiness” and how it provides opportunities to create resources for individual well-being. One of her examples was the “piano stairs” experiment in Sweden which helped people shift their behaviors to be more physically active (

In conclusion, there is a need to rethink the way we classify “play” activities by group age and the importance of “third places” in our lives. What happiness means to you? How can “play” help you achieve it? Which places make you feel more connected to your community?

The event was hosted by the World Leisure Centre of Excellence at VIU.

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