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IPA was born in Scandinavia in 1961 and held its first conference in Copenhagen that year.

Barriers to children’s play were recognized in Scandinavia as early as the 1930s when to counteract the effects of increasing urbanization and motor traffic, specific areas with trained play workers were designated for children’s play.

Interest in providing quality play opportunities for children gradually increased and in 1955 a major seminar on playgrounds was held in Europe. The need for international action was evident. In 1961 IPA was born.

The United Nation’s International Year of the Child in 1979 injected IPA with new energy and a desire to become truly international. That year it held its first triennial conference outside Europe (in Ottawa, Canada). Since then, triennial conferences have been held worldwide and a global perspective has been realized.

Though IPA began its life with an emphasis on adventure playgrounds it gradually changed its focus to play itself and to the child’s right to play. In the 1980s IPA was effective in establishing the word “play” in article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Presidents of the Organization from 1961 – 2011:

  • C.T. Sorensen, Denmark
  • Jens Sigsgaard, Denmark
  • Valia Tanon, France
  • Arvid Bengstsson, Sweden
  • Polly Hill, Canada
  • Nic Nilsson, Sweden
  • Robin Moore, USA
  • Jan van Gils, Belgium
  • Michael Paris, Germany
  • Theresa Casey, Scotland

One Response

  1. Ning de Coninck-Smith

    Dear IPA
    I am researching the history of the playground movement and playground design in Denmark. I am curious about the role of IPA – and the dates of presidency of Sorensen and Sigsgaard. I was wondering if you could help me?
    The European 1955 seminar could it be the one held in Stockholm in June 1958 under the auspices of UN? or another?

    In advance thank you very much for your help.
    Kind regards
    Ning de Coninck-Smith

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