Education and liberal arts majors first to complete Playwork minor


By Abby Stoudt, Marketing and Communications Assistant

Kristen Pelzer and Kayleigh Vo have made history.

The two Bloomsburg University students, who are pursuing different majors in different academic colleges, are the first to complete the Playwork minor, launched in the fall of 2018 as the first of its kind program in the country.

Playwork, which originated in Europe, subscribes to the principle that children should be allowed to freely choose and direct how they play and that their play should be intrinsically motivated. The Playwork minor at Bloomsburg consists of a blend of material and experience-based courses that include a practicum and an internship. The material-based classes were offered online.

“Despite being online, the classes were super organized and easy to follow along,” said Pelzer ’22, a psychology major who is also pursuing a minor in Child Life. “I also developed a good relationship with the program professor.”

For the Playwork practicum, the two Huskies collaborated with Camp Victory and the Greater Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for Children to develop activities for campers to do and made videos instructing them now to complete each activity.

“Through GOSH, we were able to see what play may look like in a hospital setting,” Pelzer said. “While this is very different from how most people think of play, it was a valuable experience because we learned that everyone has a right to play, and we need to be able to provide that no matter the circumstances.”

Vo '23, a special education major who is also pursuing a minor in American Sign Language, completed her Playwork internship at her local YMCA.

“I was able to observe the play that occurred there and help the facility implement more Playwork ideals into their day-to-day activities," Vo said. "I really enjoyed seeing everything I learned come together to be implemented in an environment with kids playing.”

Pelzer also completed her internship through the YMCA, while at the Berwick location where she was already a counselor.

“I already had relationships with the kids, but the internship gave me the chance to become a leader and organize play activities for them, Pelzer said. "It gave me the chance to learn how to manage free play when children are not doing adult guided activities.”

After graduation, Vo plans to become a special education teacher for elementary school students.

“I would like to incorporate Playwork concepts into my classroom as much as possible, but what I learned will really come into play during the summers," Vo said. "I want to open a summer camp centered around Playwork’s values. It would be like an adventure playground; an accessible area for all children to freely play however they would like with as little adult intervention as possible.”

Pelzer plans to become a Child Life Specialist in a pediatric hospital after graduation.