Keynote Speaker

Deborah MacNamara, PhD

Play is fueled by emotion, which was nature’s design. Without unstructured play our children lose the emotional playgrounds necessary for them to flourish and mature. What does play offer a child’s emotional world? How do the primal emotions come to the surface in play? This presentation will address why play and emotion go together and what happens when this space is threatened by screens, instructions, structured activities and entertainment. 

Deborah is a developmentalist, who uses science and best practice to answer the question – what do kids need from adults to realize their full human potential.

She the Director of Kid’s Best Bet, a counselling and Family Resource Center, on Faculty at the Neufeld Institute, and author of the best selling book, Rest, Play, Grow: Making Sense of Preschoolers (or anyone who acts like one) based on the relational and developmental approach of Gordon Neufeld.

For over 25 years Deborah has worked with parents, teachers, and health professionals making sense of children and adolescents in their care. Her goal is to provide insight into behaviours and learning problems while providing adults strategies to make headway. Deborah is a dynamic and passionate presenter. She interned with Dr. Gordon Neufeld and works to spread his attachment based, developmental paradigm to parents and helping professionals.