Relearning the lost art of child’s play

Meandering games of make-believe. Checking under rocks for bugs. Pillow fights. These things come naturally to children, right? Not necessarily, wrote The Globe and Mail April 7. Old-fashioned playtime has become an increasingly quaint activity – children play an estimated eight hours fewer a week than they did a decade ago.

Researchers are spreading the word that everything from kids’ physical health to problem-solving skills are at stake, but many parents are wondering how to fit unscripted playtime into schedules already crammed with organized sports, video games and homework. As play can be a hard skill to dust off, they’re seeking out websites, advocacy groups and child-development experts to expand their play repertoire.

Studies also show that self-regulation – the new darling of child development – also stems from wide-ranging play. Research has traced higher literacy scores to children in schools with playgrounds over children without. In other words, a child who takes risks at recess is more likely to try to read a challenging book.

“The word ‘play’ has this aspect of frivolity around it,” says Stuart Shanker, a child development expert at York University [Milton & Ethel Harris Research Initiative, Faculty of Health]. “There’s still a tendency for parents [to say] this it’s ‘just’ play. It’s not.”

Osgoode dean’s report says councillor’s hasty adjournment was illegal

Councillor Mike Del Grande broke the law when he arbitrarily shut down a budget consultation meeting that was attended by more than 100 people at the East York Civic Centre, says a report to city council filed by the City of Toronto’s Closed Meetings Investigator Lorne Sossin, wrote Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler in the Toronto online edition of Spacing magazine April 7.

Sossin’s investigation was triggered when I filed a complaint against Councillor Del Grande the day after the Jan. 19, 2011, incident, wrote Chaleff-Freudenthaler. Sossin, also the dean of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, found that while the impact of Del Grande’s poor decision is nebulous, it nonetheless violates the rules in place to protect the public’s right to openness, accountability and transparency in decision-making.

Conservatives’ record on finance isn’t sound, says Schulich prof

Polls show the Conservatives holding onto power in the May 2 election, probably with a third successive minority government that will leave them reliant on opposition parties to pass key legislation, wrote Reuters April 7.

"I think they’re vulnerable on their fiscal management. They want to present themselves as the party of prudence and the party of sound economic management, but the record is actually quite different," said Professor Lisa Philipps, a taxation expert at Osgoode Hall Law School.

TV chronicles law student’s effort to free convict

Goal: Do something "different" after high school.

Mission accomplished for Alex Melfi, 24, who just may help free a woman given a life sentence in prison for killing her husband 16 years ago, wrote The Brantford Expositor, April 8, in a story about his appearance on CBC Television’s “the fifth estate”.

A second-year Osgoode Hall Law School student, Melfi was a natural and immediate hire for the Innocence Project – the organization of law students and professors that’s pushed government and law to reinvestigate various Canadian cases over the years, wrote the Expositor.

Alex was drawn into the case of Ludmila Ilina who, for 16 years, has maintained that she didn’t bludgeon her husband to death and drag his body to the driveway of their Winnipeg home.

Since the show aired (and re-aired several times in the last week), Melfi has been getting tremendous feedback on his work – both on the case and on the show.  "Most people have been floored. They’re really impressed that I’ve done this and my mom says people at work and the neighbours have been commenting a lot on it."

York women’s coach heads to Switzerland for IIHF World Championship

Twenty-one young women athletes have been selected to represent Canada at the upcoming 2011 IIHF women’s world championship in Zurich and Winterthur, Switzerland, later this month, wrote Sherbrooke, Que.’s The Record April 8. The round-robin tournament will commence on April 16 and run until April 25, featuring eight elite international women’s teams, in two groups.

Joining head coach Ryan Walter as assistant coaches from Canadian Interuniversity Sport are Dan Church and Lisa Jordan. Church has been head coach at York University for the last seven years, and Jordan now coaches at Ryerson after 14 seasons leading the Saint Mary’s program.

Lionel Richie joins BlackCreek festival

Crooner Lionel Richie has joined the lineup of the inaugural BlackCreek Summer Music Festival in Toronto, wrote the National Post April 8. Richie, who dominated the charts during the 1980s with 13 consecutive Top 10 hits, will take to the stage on June 28 at York University‘s Rexall Centre. The BlackCreek festival, which launches on June 4 with a concert from Plácido Domingo, spans 14 weeks and includes such other renowned artists as Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Helen Mirren, James Earl Jones and Marvin Hamlisch.

On air

  • Two former deans of the Schulich School of Business at York University, Bill Dimma and Jim Gillies, spoke about US President Barack Obama’s objections to a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the US and about a move to merge the Toronto and London stock exchanges, on BNN-TV April 7.
  • Perry Sadorsky, professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about gas prices, on Global TV April 7.
  • Tony Fang, professor in York’s School of Human Resource Management, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the effect of proposed tax changes on Canada’s GDP and tax revenue, on OMNI-TV Cantonese edition April 7.