Ultimate Play Day lets kids romp in Schenley Plaza

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The grass is greening, the sun is shining and "The Ultimate Play Day," a free event for children and their families, is sprouting on Schenley Plaza, Oakland, from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

A year ago "Play Day!" was held to debut the Lozziwurm, a playground sculpture in front of Carnegie Museum of Art that announced the forthcoming 2013 Carnegie International. The day was co-hosted by the museum and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children.

"It worked out perfectly that it was in April, which we celebrate as the Month of the Young Child," said Cara Ciminillo, PAYEC operations director. Other organizations have since joined the original two to form the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative, which organized Sunday's event. They plan to hold "The Ultimate Play Day" annually in April to "celebrate young children and their healthy growth," Ms. Ciminillo said. "The goal of this event is to raise awareness about the importance of play in children's social, emotional, academic and physical health and development."

The National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Pittsburgh organization's national affiliate, established a week in April to draw attention to the importance of investing in young children, Ms. Ciminillo said. "It's a national thing except that here in Pittsburgh we celebrate it all month long, because so many organizations and entities want to celebrate children."

The day, which will be held rain or shine, will include these activities:

• Carnegie Museum of Art -- family art activities; play with giant cardboard soccer balls; and the Lozziwurm, a block away on Forbes Ave.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh -- storytelling sessions.

PAYEC -- a dramatic/creative play area; the Imagination Playground, larger-than-life blue foam blocks to rearrange.

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy -- nature tic-tac-toe; Hunker Houser, like tug-of-war except children balance on logs while they tug; building animal shelters and habitats using natural materials.

Pittsburgh Center for Creative ReUse -- make and play with recyclable hula hoops.

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh -- children weave randomly selected story elements into a tale of their own making.

Interactive Story Adventures -- creating big structures with 1,000 large Legos.

If you don't walk, bike or bus, there's $5 parking in the museum garage and free parking at the Carnegie Mellon University campus garage.

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