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Chris Lawrence "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”


Emma Lawrence – Occupational Therapist


Bachelor of Science (Occupational Therapy)

My background

I was lucky to grow up with frequent holiday and weekend visits to a cousin’s farm. This opportunity, combined with three younger brothers and a big dress up box at home allowed for a childhood with many hours of spontaneity, imagination and discovery.

Becoming a mum myself triggered an interest in play, but as our children started to grow, the busy, electronic world became more and more frenetic and seemingly inescapable. Weekends away camping became a wonderful haven to recharge and relax. We were acutely aware of the benefits from these weekends, and felt so fortunate to have this opportunity. When the nature-based playground was developed at our kids’ school, discussions with children, teachers and parents showed us the incredible difference it had made to the wider school community, and the inspiration for making this opportunity a reality for more children was born.

Over the last 15 years I have worked as an occupational therapist in a variety of settings, from hospitals to community and with clients ranging from primary school age, to the elderly, and currently also work part-time as a lecturer at Curtin University. Throughout these varied settings, including my role as a mum, it has been evident to me that appropriate consideration of the key occupational therapy concepts of:

  • person (who is this person or group of people)

  • occupation (what do they want or need to be able to do) and

  • environment (what is the surrounding context)

is important in giving clarity to the process being undertaken, and improves the outcomes.

I feel strongly that one of the most important and valued occupations in a child’s development is that of play. To support this key pursuit, play areas must provide children with environments that encourage and support quality play experiences. Within Nature Play Solutions, my focus is on the children who will use the playground, their needs for play and learning and how this can be best achieved within the play environment. I work with the team in considering not only the physical environment, but the social, institutional and cultural environment of a service to ensure the best outcomes for the new playground. During post-installation visits, discussion includes brainstorming ways for the teaching or care staff to help the children receive maximum benefit from the playground.

I also love working with Kerry in the development of our Loose Parts Play experiences – wanting to ensure that as many children as possible experience the thrill of being creative and having fun – without any ‘toys’ being present, just the right mix of cardboard tubes, a bandage or two and some pieces of material!


Play Australia, Occupational Therapy Australia