Power of Play Conference

Power of Play Conference

March 20-22, 2018 

Marbles Kids Museum 

Join us for our 8th annual Power of Play Conference. Gain knowledge and resources on the latest inclusive practices, network with others in the field, and have a lot of fun! The conference will include training on serving families effectively, building lifelong friendships for children, achieving positive behaviors, preventing and handling bullying, and creating accessible activities among other topics. This inspiring event is for all people who desire to ensure no child sits on the sidelines. UMASSB0STON_ID_blue_316x412

CEUs are available through a partnership with UMass-Boston and the Educational Endorsement of the American Camp Association.

Recap from 2017!

Opening Keynote


Dr. Amanda Kloo, PhD is a tenured professor at Belmont Abbey College in the Department of Education.  She is committed to enhancing learning, life, and health outcomes of individuals with disabilities.  She is a veteran special education teacher and developmental specialist with experience working with a wide range of exceptional abilities. Her personal & professional passions focus on marrying learning & behavioral theories with coaching & movement methodologies to positively impact cognitive, emotional, social, & physical wellness of children and adults with varying intellectual and fitness needs. Amanda is also a coach, trainer, & adaptive athlete with cerebral palsy whose health, work, & life have been transformed by functional fitness training.   To pay these blessings forward, she established Project Momentum Fitness a non-profit organization created to provide inclusive health and fitness supports to all athletes regardless of age, circumstance, ability, or disability.  Amanda believes that exercise, activity & play are not only possible for everyone– they are fundamental for everyone. She is a frequent presenter at conferences, a widely published author, and holds multiple consulting positions at the University of Pittsburgh, the American Institute for Research, the Pennsylvania Training & Technical Assistance Network, The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the US Department of Education, and the Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance.  Amanda lives near Charlotte with her husband Rob & twin sons Isaac & Elliot who enjoy the many gifts life brings to their unique family.

Fireside Chat

Facilitated by ABC11 anchor, Julie Wilson, enjoy an opportunity to converse with the leading professionals in the inclusive recreation world.

Julie Wilson co-anchors the ABC11 Eyewitness News weekend morning newscast. During the week, you can catch Julie telling stories throughout the Triangle. Joining ABC 11 in January 2017, Julie is a Missouri native. She graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor of arts in interpersonal communications. After college, Julie modeled for the Price is Right-LIVE! In Branson, Missouri, before joining KRBK-TV in Springfield as a reporter and substitute anchor. During her time in Springfield, Julie received an Emmy nomination for her reporting on domestic violence in a rural town in the Show Me State. A big baseball fan, Julie spent two seasons emceeing for the Springfield Cardinals, the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. As a reporter in Springfield, she has covered post-season baseball for both the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals.

Dr. John Dattilo is a Professor in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at Penn State University where he teaches about inclusive leisure services and leisure education from an applied, philosophical, and ethical perspective. He received his Ph.D. in Leisure Studies from the University of Illinois. Dr. Dattilo is author of several editions of Inclusive Leisure Services and Leisure Education Program Planning and co-author of Facilitation Techniques in Therapeutic Recreation with Alexis McKenney and Application of Behavior Analysis in Leisure Contexts with Kari Kensinger. Over the past 30 years he has collaborated with international and domestic interdisciplinary teams to conduct research resulting in 13 books, 24 book chapters, over 140 articles, 25 funded projects, and over 180 presentations at professional meetings, workshops, and agencies addressing needs of a variety of people who encounter social-psychological barriers to their leisure. Throughout his career Dr. Dattilo has tried to create opportunities to respectfully understand perceptions of diverse individuals to provide a forum to share their voices and gain insight into ways to assist them in addressing barriers to their leisure so that they are empowered to experience enjoyment and meaning in their lives.

Stuart J. Schleien, Ph.D, LRT/CTRS, CPRP, is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Community and Therapeutic Recreation at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro since 1997.  He also serves as an Executive Director for InFocus, an advocacy organization that empowers individuals of varying abilities who are marginalized by society to create more welcoming, accessible, and accommodating communities.  As a Licensed Recreational Therapist and Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, he has pioneered innovative approaches that have helped parents and professionals design inclusive recreation, physical activity, camp, peer companion, and volunteer programs for children and adults with diverse skills and abilities.  He has specific expertise as a systems change agent for inclusive service delivery, helping agencies manage successful organizational change and development.  Dr. Schleien has published extensively on recreation, friendship, and advocacy skills development in support of the full inclusion of individuals with disabilities in valued community roles and settings.  He has written seven books and over 125 journal articles and book chapters on these topics.  He was the recipient of the “Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research,” the most prestigious award bestowed upon a researcher by the National Recreation and Park Association.  Dr. Schleien has presented his work throughout the U.S. and Canada, and in Australia, England, Germany, Israel, Spain, and Sweden.

Mark Spolidoro has been an adapted physical education teacher for 25 years in the Boston Public School system, where he has been the driving force in implementing inclusion in the physical education program district wide. Mark further strengthens the Boston Public Schools’ commitment to inclusion in his role as the BPS coordinator for Special Olympics Massachusetts Unified Sports for the past 16 years. Additionally, for the past decade, Mark has been implementing inclusive recreational programs as a staff member at the Center for Social Development and Education where he serves as the Director of Camp Shriver at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Co-Director of Saturday Camp at the Edgerley Family South Boston Boys & Girls Club. Mark graduated with a bachelor of science in physical education and health from the University of Rhode Island and continued his education at UMass Boston, receiving his teacher’s certification in moderate special needs education. Mark was an all-state athlete in baseball in Rhode Island and played baseball at the University of Rhode Island. He is still involved in sports as a high school basketball coach and remains physically active by participating in adult basketball and softball leagues while enjoying playing golf with family and friends.

Gary N. Siperstein, PhD is founder and director of the Center for Social Development and Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston, a multidisciplinary research and training institute whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children and adolescents with disabilities.  He is also professor emeritus in the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. Dr. Siperstein has published more than 100 articles, chapters, and books on the social aspects of intellectual and developmental disabilities, particularly the social inclusion of persons with intellectual disabilities in society. He is the recipient of more than twenty-five research grants from federal agencies, including NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) and the U.S. Department of Education. In 2006, Siperstein founded Camp Shriver at UMass Boston, the first fully inclusive sports camp in Massachusetts for children with and without disabilities.  In 2007, he received the University of Massachusetts’ President’s Lifetime Public Service Award, and the University honored him in 2008 with the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Scholarship.

Closing Keynote

img_8516-1Arielle Zellis is currently a senior at Stern College, working her way towards becoming a behavior analyst, with a psychology major and an education minor. She recently was the student speaker at the TEDx Yeshiva University conference in November and went on from there to be a speaker at this year’s Yachad Leadership Conference: an inclusion conference for high school students from across America. She is a writer for The Mighty as well as an active volunteer for Gigi’s Playhouse’ literacy tutor program for teenagers with Down syndrome. Arielle has a brother with Down syndrome who gives her the passion to advocate and create a more inclusive world for those with disabilities.


Will I benefit from the Conference?

The National Inclusion Project opens doors for all kids to be included together and experience all that life has to offer. We conduct programs with community partners to teach others how to be inclusive so that kids with and without disabilities can experience lifelong benefits. We believe that no one should sit on the sidelines.

Our goal with the National Inclusion Project Conference and Let’s ALL Play is to provide a framework and resources for program providers to implement successful inclusion in their programs.

The conference will have information that will be beneficial for the program provider who is brand new to inclusion and the inclusion veteran who wants to do more and/or better to serve in an inclusive setting. The conference will feature sessions for recreational professionals, specialists (i.e. Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, etc.), educators, students, parents, managers of play-based facilities (like museums and zoos), and many more! Not only will the sessions be beneficial for professional development, attendees have various networking opportunities throughout the conference. Supporters of the National Inclusion Project will also benefit as we communicate our mission and message.
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Registration fee: $265

Are you a full-time high school or college student? Students get a reduced rate of $75. Please email Aron Hall if you would like to learn more about this rate!

Click here for the conference schedule and session information.

Click here for hotel and travel information.

What are people saying about the National Inclusion Project Conference?

“As a professional who has been attending conferences for over 20 years, I must say that I received more relevant information during this conference than any other I’ve been to. I returned feeling enthusiastic and empowered!”

“It was very helpful to learn practical skills that can be directly applied in my work, ie, preventive strategies for working with children with autism (visual aids), as well as useful ice breakers that not only help in getting to know each other, but also help one in seeing how it might feel in someone else’s shoes.”

“It was so beneficial to learn that other organizations share similar challenges as we do as well as to hear from those who’ve had good success in areas where we may not have the same resources. I am amazed by the overall enthusiasm everyone had for both the conference and their own programs.”

“I came away with a better perspective of what inclusion truly is and ways to present it to my staff.”

Want to volunteer at the conference?

We’d love to have you! Email Aron Hall if you are interested in helping out.

Interested in sponsoring a conference package?

We are excited to offer opportunities for local and national businesses to engage with our conference material. We are looking for businesses to sponsor different packages at our conference, including our three keynotes, breaks during each day, the networking and fun night, and our “fidget boxes”, full of various activities to help our attendees learn in the ways that suit them individually. Contact Aron Hall if you are interested in sponsoring a session!