- educational activity promoting and implementing Original Play's concepts and principles in various aspects of social life,
- creating standards and ensuring quality in how Original Play's concepts and values are communicated,
- coordinating, integrating and documenting the activities of individuals and organisations engaged in implementing Original Play's concepts and practices,
- educational and cultural activity aimed at creating a common perception of childhood as the most important stage in human development affecting an individual's entire life, the life of societies and it's role in creating world peace,
- educational activity aimed towards improving interpersonal relationships between children, adolescents and adults through practicing Original Play, especially in preventing and mitigating problems of aggression, violence, and social exclusion,
- research activity analysing, measuring, and documenting the influence of Original Play on the quality of social life,
- charitable and philanthropic activity, including support for disabled people.
The International Foundation for Original Play was established and registered as a Non-profit entity in Poland in 2017 by Jolanta Graczykowska, the sole authorised representative and coordinator of Original Play for Europe since 2002, in order to promote and implement Original Play's concepts and practices in Europe and Internationally.
The name "Original Play" and the Original Play logo are internationally registered Trademarks, and may not be used without the express written permission of The International Foundation for Original Play to promote or offer Workshops, Seminars, or Events under the name "Original Play", either for free or for compensation.
Accredited Original Play apprentices may offer their services to play with children for free or in exchange for compensation, but are not allowed to offer Seminars, Workshops, or "Mentoring" to adults, either for free or for compensation.
Individuals or organisations which are not listed either as accredited apprentices, or partner organisations on the International Foundation for Original Play's website, have no recognised affiliation with the Foundation.
The responsibilities of the Foundation are divided between the Supervisory Board, the Management Board, and the Program Council. The members are listed below:
The Supervisory Board
The Management Board
Original Play seeks to improve relationships between individuals and groups by replacing aggression and violence between people with kindness and love, and to make every child feel safe and loved.
Original Play: Curiosity
- presents an alternative to aggression and violence without the use of force, while maintaining self esteem for oneself as well as others;
- provides choices of possible reactions to aggression, violence and fear without the need for revenge;
- transforms deep-rooted negative habits and patterns of behaviour into new habits based on feelings of love, belonging and safety;
- creates a safe space for the transformation of physical or verbal aggression;
- promotes the feeling of belonging as the best alternative for fear and competition;
- creates a foundation for the optimal conditions for learning, creativity and self-development;
- increases the possibility of adaptation to new environments in life's ever changing conditions.
Original Play is:
- a preventative, intervention and strategic process that uses the power of natural play to activate natural mechanisms of development and health;
- a psychological and physiological process. It is a combination of cognitive, emotional and sensory-motor learning, which can only be understood and developed by practice;
- free of competition, rivalry and feelings of winning or losing;
- a universal process, reaching beyond cultural, social or language boundaries;
- serves as the basis for interpersonal communication and cultural integration;
- a meeting place where we can feel that we belong to a group, without the social divisions.
The Original Play Program is the result of over forty years of research by O. Fred Donaldson, Phd. on the play behaviour of children, adults and wild animals.
Fred first described Original Play in his 1997 book,
"Playing By Heart, The Vision & Practice of Belonging"
Fred extended his theories on Original Play in his 2017 book,
Building play relationships may be one of the most high-leverage actions we can take to create and ensure more healthy and peaceful children, families, communities, and nations. This is what ten year old Anna said about Original Play:
"Play is being able to tell the world that you don't like what it is doing to you and not harming anyone while you do it."
Original Play's safety, love, and belonging re-pattern the habits of aggression, violence, and revenge that disrupt children's attachment, decision-making, and threat perception abilities.
The idea that a pattern of kindness and unity lie at the heart of our world and can be discovered and experienced by us is the fundamental principle of Original Play, and reshapes the brain-mind-environment connection.
By means of this dynamic transformation a person undergoes potentially concrete and sustainable changes that are profound. This pattern change has two important qualities: enrichment, or capacity for choice, and plasticity, or capacity to change.
Original Play's benefits are not limited to children but are available to all of us.
The benefits of Original Play include:
- An ability to recognize good and bad touch
- Improved self-esteem, emotional flexibility, and increased acceptance of differences
- Reduced anxiety, stress, and defensiveness;
- An ability to think beyond contest;
- An active habit of kindness;
- Development of an inclusive sense of belonging;
- A decrease in the energy used for self-defense, tactile defensiveness, body fatigue, and injury;
- Improved range of motion, fine and gross motor exploration, balance, resilience, flexibility;
- Positive effects on immune, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems;
- Increased brain plasticity.
The Original Play Program is directed towards:
- Adults - tutors, teachers of all levels of education, parents, workers of educational, cultural and protective institutions for children, nursery schools, institutions for special-needs children, rehabilitation centers for children, institutions for juvenile criminals and other centers for which provide education and help for children, and for those like police, probation officers and health service workers, who deal with situations of potential conflict.
- Children and teenagers irrespective of culture, age, and psycho-motor development.
The practice of Original Play is useful in everyday life.
Workshop participants learn how to:
- deal with conflicts and rivalry in private and professional life;
- achieve the feeling of safety, belonging and trust in their relationships with others;
- deal with stress and fear;
- deal with moments of surprise and change;
- change behaviour patterns, from aggressive, anger, and violence to kindness, caring, and openness;
- improve emotional flexibility and self-esteem;
- develop non-verbal interpersonal skills.
Workshops prepare adults to effectively participate and join children and teenagers in play.
Workshop participants also learn:
- what is the role of play in a child's life;
- how play creates strong foundations for learning and development in children;
- what is the role of adults in play;
- how to join children and teenagers in play.
The Original Play Program has been recommended by the National in-service Teacher Training Centre in Poland for the values it promotes, simplicity, and variety.
This guideline is written primarily for those people, who after taking workshops in original play and beginning to play with children, decide that they want to pursue original play with a more serious commitment.
The following guidelines are written for six reasons:
- Sometimes people want to be recommended by us.
- Some people assume that they can “teach” Original Play or “lead” others in play with children after taking a few workshops.
- To focus prospective participants on the necessity of learning Original Play from children, it is necessary for each person who wants to continue growing with Original Play to have a keen understanding of the integrity and responsibility involved in such a choice.
- It is important to present some guidelines that create a sense of the breadth and depth of the commitment required in original play in order:
- To provide ways for people to make connections with and support others who are playing.
- To learn how to effectively present oneself to the public.
People often ask us, When can I teach “Original Play? This is the wrong question. The more we play the more we understand that we know less and less. So the crucial question is to ask instead, “How do I keep learning more about Original Play?”
While Original Play remains difficult to define, the process of experiencing it can be pointed out and mentored. The one seeking to learn to play needs an environment that fosters gentleness, compassion and kindness in thought, spirit, and action. This is the ecology of the playground created by children.
What follows is the first step in an apprenticeship in Original Play. Original Play is a long and at times difficult psycho-physical and spiritual discipline. Each person may play differently though each applies the same principles in their play. When we begin to play after years away from it, we bring different habits and backgrounds. Therefore, the length of an apprenticeship depends upon the individual. In the final analysis you alone are responsible for your own growth in Original Play.
An apprenticeship in Original Play has no standard length of time.
Fred's apprenticeship, for example, lasted over 40 years.
Those who seek an apprenticeship in Original Play must be able to see beyond the categories and touch the hearts of those with whom they play. There is no easy way to discover this. Original Play cannot be taught, only learned from experience. As you play you receive a direct and first-hand experience of another being. You must learn to respect the fact that in this giving and receiving you are being mentored. You will feel your strengths and weaknesses. You will learn to play with your spirit, not your ego.
What follows are guidelines for a basic foundation in Original Play. It is important to point out that Original Play is learned from masters—children. One does not learn Original Play from adults, nor by attending workshops. Workshops are introductions and are by design what we call accessibility training—that is training to prepare you to be mentored by children. Only then will your experience, training, and time expand your compassion as you play in your daily life.
What follows is a basic outline of an apprenticeship in Original Play. The following elements are by no means complete. They are intended to give those who already play reference points or hints to the direction one must follow. The numbers are minimums. You may have the certificate of recommended apprentice when you meet the following criteria.
The apprenticeship consists of a minimum of:
- 3 years of a constant and definite pattern of playing with kids and teenagers
- 100 hours of playing with children/year= 300 total hours playing with children
- 2 basic training seminars
- 2 advanced training seminars
- 2 individual trainings with Jolanta or Fred
- 3 supervisions each including a number of play sessions with different kind of children under the individual mentorship of Jolanta
- 300 hours of play must include at least 100 hours with special needs children
- Minimum number of children played with in 3 years=3,000 including children and teenagers in different kind of kindergartens (public, privet, integration, special kindergartens) and different kind of schools (preliminary school, gymnasium, high school), nurseries and orphanages.
- 300 hours of play has to be confirmed by officials of participating institutions.
- Apprentices who want to attend training seminars can’t have a break between last workshop and basic training seminar longer that 1 year. If it is longer the introductory workshop has to be repeated.
- Only those apprentices who completed all apprenticeship training and have an confirmation certificate can be listed as a recommended apprentices on main official original play website (www.originalplay.eu).
Recommended apprentices are required to continue playing with children and attend workshops, individual training and supervision at least once in year in order to maintain their Recommended Apprentice status.
An apprenticeship certificate is an affirmation of, not an end, but a beginning.
It is evidence of one’s moral responsibility and commitment to the discipline, wisdom, and compassion of Original Play.
Jolanta Graczykowska MA and O. Fred Donaldson Ph.D are the only designated mentors in Original Play. They give certificates of participation in workshops and seminars as expressions of an individual’s participation. In addition to workshop and seminar participation certificates, The International Foundation for Original Play will provide certificates of recognition to those who have completed the apprenticeship training.
Individuals who want to be listed on European website as a recommended apprentice can send the following information to Jolanta Graczykowska for consideration to be placed on www.originalplay.eu . Each person is responsible for the accuracy of the information they present and for updating it as necessary.
Name, Address, Phone, Email
Type and Date of Original Play seminars, practical trainings (not workshops) taken
Years/hours of experience doing Original Play with children
Types and numbers of institutions with children played with
Fred Donaldson describes how he discovered Original Play by playing with young children. In these Introductory Lectures, he talks in a personal and touching way about his diverse experiences playing with children, people in special life situations and wild animals. Through photos and films, he shows the audience how he plays with children, adolescents and wolves., and answers questions from the audience.
Original Play workshops and seminars are not conducted as entertainment but as introductions and committed practice sessions and can therefore be taken repeatedly.
Workshops and seminars are designed not to teach people how to play, but rather how to make themselves accessible to children so they can then learn the original play skills from children.
The purpose of this workshop is to introduce participants to the vision and practice of original play. The workshop introduces the dimensions of the original play relationship as taught by children and animals. This workshop will encourage you to make yourself accessible to children’s original play and re-discover play’s potential in your own life.
The purpose of this workshop is to further develop skills learned in the Introductory Workshop in order to safely learn from a greater variety of children and use original play in a wider range of life situations.
Basic Training Seminar
At least one workshop and play with children are prerequisites for this seminar. The purpose of the basic training seminar is twofold: (1) to give participants a mentored and intense play experience with a variety of children in different circumstances, and (2) provide an opportunity for persons from around Europe interested in original play to meet one another, share experiences, and create the potential future cooperation.
Advanced Training Seminar
At least two workshops, the basic seminar and play with children are prerequisites for this seminar. The purpose of the advanced training seminar is twofold: (1) to increase participant responsibility in a mentored and intense play experience with a variety of children in different circumstances, and (2) provide additional opportunities for persons from around Europe interested in original play to meet one another, share experiences, and create the potential future cooperation.
Individuals who have completed Beginner Workshops and Advanced Workshops can join Fred Donaldson and / or Jolanta Graczykowska in their play with children, observe their work, and take active part in play sessions.
Individuals who have successfully completed Beginner and Advanced Workshops can travel to Poland for intensive, personal one-on-one training sessions with Jolanta Graczykowska in order to develop their skills in an individual manner. Depending on their needs, they can accompany Jolanta to integrative, special-needs, private or public kindergartens, special needs schools, and preliminary schools to improve their skills in creating a safe play environment, and their knowledge in how to handle specific situations during Original Play sessions.
Apprentices can request Fred Donaldson and Jolanta Graczykowska to accompany them to institutions and settings where they conduct Original Play sessions to support and assist them in solving specific problems they are experiencing.
“Horse Play” Workshop
This is not a workshop about becoming a better rider, or taming an unruly horse. It is not even really about horses and humans. It is rather about feeling the belonging that unites horse and human beyond the categories.
The people listed here are in various stages of completion of the Guidelines for an Apprenticeship in Original Play as established by Jolanta Graczykowska, MA and/or O. Fred Donaldson, Ph.D, of The International Foundation for Original Play. Legal Disclaimer Contact details, biographies, photo galleries, and resumes of experience can be found on each individual's profile page by clicking on their profile photo, or name.
O. Fred Donaldson, Ph.D
Jola Graczykowska, MA