In HEAL, we conduct integrated studies of human-environment interactions as they intersect with leisure and impact health and well-being. Drawing from knowledge and methods in psychology, public health, environmental epidemiology, leisure sciences, and human dimensions of natural resources, we employ a transdisciplinary approach to examine environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural conditions as well as individual-level factors that contribute to various mechanisms key to human health, well-being, and flourishing.
Paper Published: Play and Scientific Creativity
How and to what extent do scientists engage in play? Are more playful scientists also more creative? Does play contribute to scientific creativity? And in what circumstances? In this open access paper published in the Journal of Creative Behavior in June 2023, Dr. Shen synthesizes what we know about the answers to these questions, and proposes an integrative theoretical framework to advance systematic research on fostering scientific creativity through play.
Seminar Talk: Exploring Innovative and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Better Connecting Human and Nature
Dr. Shen gave a seminar talk on May 10, 2023 on play as a transformative pathway to promoting environmental health. She invited College of Forestry faculty and students to cross the aisle and explore innovative ways to foster social-ecological well-being through interdisciplinary research collaborations.
Project Funded: Climate Change Education through Outdoor Play...with Food
Junior Outdoor Food Navigators (JOFN): Fostering youth climate resilience and environmental health through positive outdoor food experiences, a project co-led by Drs. Siew Sun Wong and Sharon Shen, is awarded with funding by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences through the ASP3IRE Children’s Environmental Health Center. JOFN is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the HEAL lab, Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventative Health, OSU extension (Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon Environmental Literacy Program) and community partners (KidSpirit, 4-H Outreach Leadersihp Institute, Grand Ronde tribe) dedicated to environmental education and positive youth development.
Erkkila Endowment Award for Playful Parent
The HEAL lab's research project, Playful Parent: The development and empirical evaluation of a play intervention program to enhance playfulness for parents of children with disabilities, was awarded with funding by Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation John C. Erkkila, M. D. Endowment for Health and Human Performance. The project is led by Dr. Sharon Shen and Co-PI Dr. Megan MacDonald.
Media Report: Adaptive Leisure Engagement Contributes to Mental Health
The HEAL lab's study on pandemic leisure, a part of the Play2Cope project, was featured in The World, Medical Xpress, Mirage (Australia), EurekAlert! (The American Association of the Advancement of Science), NEWSBREAK, UK Today News, and KOIN 6.
Invited Talk: The Complexity and Promises of Adult Play and Playfulness
Dr. Sharon Shen was an invited speaker at the Health & Development Lab in Florida International University to talk about the complexity and promises of adult play and playfulness.
Findings Published: Pandemic Leisure
The first set of findings from the Play2Cope project is published in January 2022 in the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The paper is open access and can be found here: Leisure Engagement during COVID-19 and Its Association with Mental Health and Well-being in U.S. Adult.
New Project Funded: The Playful Path to Parenting Project Received A National Award
National Center for Families Learning and the Sharon Darling Innovation Fund have awarded a grant to support Drs. Sharon Shen and Shauna Tominey's work to refine the parental playfulness intervention model. Over 350 applicants submitted proposals and the Playful Path to Parenting was one of three proposals to be awarded funding. Drs. Shen and Tominey spoke about their work on OPB's "Think Out Loud" on July 21, 2023.
Presentation: The Role of Play and Playfulness in Adult-Centered Psychological Interventions
Dr. Shen presented an integrative review of play and playfulness' role in psychological interventions for adults at The Association for the Study of Play (TASP) 2023 conference held in New York City, May 17-19. Her review summarized three decades of empirical evidence, including play's causal link to mental health, and encouraged a stronger life-span perspective in play research.
Playful Parent Playbook Published: Free Resources to Support Playful Parenting (or Simply Being a Fun Adult!)
As part of the Playful Parent project, a set of four booklets packed with research-informed insights and fun activity ideas are published on the HEAL website. The booklets are freely available to all those who are interested in sparking joy and connecting with children and the young at heart through transformative play.
Presentation: Child Outdoor Play and Well-being during the Pandemic
Lydia Gorrell gave a terrific presentation on November 14, 2022 about child outdoor play and well-being under sustained stress and major disruptions of the pandemic. This is part of the Play2Cope project and also Lydia's Master thesis presentation. She successfully defended her thesis and graduated in December, 2022. Congrats, Lydia!
Workshop: Play Fully through Immersive Cultural Experiences
The HEAL lab presented a play workshop on November 3, 2022 at the Peavy Forest Science Center. Participants explored culturally informed playful experiences of body sensation, social connections, performance, and transgression. HEAL researcher Leland Masek led the workshop.
Graduated: Colby Parkinson Joins Penn State
Colby Parkinson successfully defended his Master thesis in June, 2022 on Outdoor recreation during COVID-19: The role of adaptive strategies and associations with mental health! Colby now joins the doctoral program in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at Penn State University with a Distinguished Graduate Fellowship. Congrats, Colby!
Colby Parkinson Receives Outstanding Graduate Student Award
Congrats to Colby Parkinson for receiving the 2022 Outstanding Graduate Student Award in the FES Department, College of Forestry! This award acknowledges his exceptional scholastic ability, work ethic, and department citizenship.