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THE POWER OF PLAY WORLD PREMIERE, JANUARY 20

TV documentary reveals that having fun is a serious matter

Halifax, Nova Scotia - January 8, 2019 – Did you ever see an octopus play? How about a kangaroo frolic with a deer? A hamster riddled with social anxiety? Researchers are finding some astounding evidence that all living things – from fish to humans – not only like to play, but they need it for survival. The new episode of The Nature of Things - The Power of Play, explores why this is especially crucial in children, as more young Canadians spend less time outdoors and more time indoors focused on screens.


The Power of Play is a one-hour documentary that explores the science behind play and reveals how researchers are linking play deprivation to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The documentary will have its world broadcast premiere on CBC’s THE NATURE OF THINGS on Sunday, January 20 at 8 P.M. (8:30 NT) and will also be available to stream on CBC Gem from 5 p.m. ET on Friday, January 18.


The documentary takes viewers to research labs, zoos, and aquariums around the world to see how animals play, who they play with, and what happens when they are prevented from playing. McMaster University’s Jonathan Pruitt found out that a species of female social spiders that “play” sexual intercourse live longer. Sergio Pellis, a behavioural neuroscientist at the University of Lethbridge explains how he came to the conclusion that play deprivation causes depression in lab rats. It’s something American psychiatrist Stuart Brown suspected when he studied violent offenders in the United States. Pellis and Brown are among a growing number of experts who are convinced that unstructured play is vital to our mental health and well being.


Other experts, including Vancouver’s Mariana Brussoni and Norway’s Ellen Sandseter are leading a movement to return to risky play which involves some level of danger. A visit to an outdoor childcare centre in Norway shows the resilient, rosy-cheeked children benefiting from playing outside all day in a space with no fences and almost no limits.


“This show is full of surprising animal antics. Our team also captured scenes of children engaging in risky play, in Norway, the United States and Canada, that will remind many people of one of the best parts of their childhood,” says director Christine McLean. “But there is a serious message in this documentary, about the shocking toll the loss of free outdoor play is taking on our kids. Science now has proof that shooing children outside is one of the best things we can do for them”.


The Power of Play was written and directed by Halifax’s Christine MacLean, created and produced by Erin Oakes, and executive produced by Edward Peill from Halifax-based Tell Tale Productions Inc. It was produced in association with the CBC / Radio-Canada with support from the Canada Media Fund, The Nova Scotia Film & TV Production Incentive Fund, and Federal Tax Credits.


About CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster. Through our mandate to inform, enlighten and entertain, we play a central role in strengthening Canadian culture. As Canada’s trusted news source, we offer a uniquely Canadian perspective on news, current affairs and world affairs. Our distinctively homegrown entertainment programming draws audiences from across the country. Deeply rooted in communities, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We are leading the transformation to meet the needs of Canadians in a digital world.


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