Turning On The Light - Learning & Stress

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A Story of Hope Unlocking our Full Potential


O. Fred Donaldson, A Vision of Hope Through Playing
by Amanda Daniell

O. Fred Donaldson, Ph.D, a native Californian now living in Sweden and offering international seminars and workshops is one of the most exquisite men you will ever meet on this planet.  He is Grizzly Adams meets Aikido Master.  He has extraordinary senses, a calm and focused presence and a genuine laugh that comes from deep within.  He is as comfortable in a lair of wild animals as he is in a classroom of children.  During his workshops children and adults alike watch in pure amazement as he gracefully manages 30 children contained within the area of a large gymnastics mat.  Relying on his instincts, intuition and attention to their non – verbal feedback, he gently plays with each child and offers exactly what they need at that moment:  whether it is rocking a tired child to sleep or allowing an overly rambunctious child to vent his anger or excess energy, he always creates a safe place for all participants to play without fear.  Fred Donaldson has coined this play therapy  “Original Play”.  It is one of the most ancient and natural therapies around, yet not fully appreciated until Dr. Donaldson decided to make a career out of studying the behaviours of children and wild animals.  He left a high paying job as a Professor with years of experience teaching at the Universities of Washington and California State Hayward as well as the California School of Professional Psychology and moved into kindergarten class where he started to observe these fascinating young children.  His naturally loving instincts enabled him to quickly connect with the children and learn about their “no fear” attitudes.  To this day, Dr. Fred Donaldson claims that everything he knows about Original Play has been learned from the natural play of children and animals.  It is the unspoken language, the language of love, affection and mutual respect that allows for deep communication.  The naturally flowing force of love engages both children and adults to willingly surrender their tough exterior for the playfulness of the youthful child inside. In his Pulitzer Prize nominated book entitled Playing By Heart: The Vision and Practice of Belonging, Fred Donaldson describes some of his amazing experiences and explores the very practical idea that there is another way to play in the world and that “you are loveable and there is nothing to fear.”  He promotes a sense of belonging and self worth through an attitude of kindness that is instinctive in children, but often lost through a culture of competition, isolation and sometimes violence.   His workshops, continual research, and his book as well as over 30 published articles renew hope and faith in the instinctive core of our humanity which is created in love and a deeper sense of purpose than ever imaginable.

There are two opportunities to take a 2 – day workshop, Nov 24-25 or 26-27.  Dr. Donaldson is also offering a free presentation Friday evening Nov. 25 in Kelowna at the Holiday Park Resort.  Beverly Hunter from Turning on the Light Learning Centre, a friend and colleague who has participated with Fred in workshops in Poland to help parents and children understand and cope with autism, cerebral palsy and ADHD, has organized these workshops to assist parents and children find a new way to cope in this world.  This is the chance in a lifetime to hear of Fred’s incredible adventures around the world and his witnessing of the miracles of love. If you want to experience the mastery of his learning, don’t miss the workshops coming up at the end of this month. For more info, vist the Workshops section of this site.