Way to play!

We all know the importance of letting kids play, but society tends to look sideways at adults who dress in costume or middle-aged gamers. However, experts say adults who play have less stress, bond better with others and are more productive at work too. To reduce the pressures everyday life can bring, we need to let ourselves be kids again.

Play should be an enjoyable activity without any goal in mind. Whether it’s just throwing a stick for the dog, dressing up for Halloween or even going on a bike ride to nowhere special, it reduces stress, makes learning easier and stimulates creativity – hence the increasing use of games in workplace training. It also boosts our resilience.

Researchers also point to the effect social play has on bringing people closer together, as well as increasing our concern for others and making us less selfish. While there’s definitely a place for competitive sport, it doesn’t have the same effect.

At New Zealand’s first Just So Festival, held at Wellington’s Kaitoke Regional Park from February 23-25, 2018, play for all ages is everything. Participants can camp throughout the festival or come for the day, and enjoy activities like theatre, dance, pillow fights, comedy, circus and a “bonkers” Tribal Tournament. Already a fixture in the UK, the Just So Festival offers a chance for families to spend time together, get creative and step outside their everyday lives in an amazing setting with plenty of bush walks and swimming available.

The Festival will also be sponsoring charities Birthright, which supports one-parent families, and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, so families who may not be able to afford tickets can join in the fun.

”What’s great about the Festival is it’s not as restrictive and structured as being in a theatre or another typical holiday programme,” says New Zealand organiser Kaly Newman.

“You’re out in nature, so you don’t have to sit still if you don’t want to. You can just wander off and go for a walk or join in with something else. And unlike music festivals, which are usually focused on adults, no activity is just for adults only. The whole point is for the whole family to do things together.”

Having trained in art therapy, she is well versed in the merits of play for all ages.

“It’s great, setting goals, but ultimately you’ve got to enjoy the process, or what is it all for?”

For more information about the Just So Festival, visit