Supporting Student Mental Health Through Play Webinar


May 16, 2024



Create a more playful environment that supports every child’s mental well-being!

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Playworks and the American Academy of Pediatrics are teaming up for a special webinar exploring the ecosystem of care for kids’ mental health and the transformative role of play. 

This virtual conversation will engage medical professionals, educators, and other community leaders to shine a spotlight on the various people who form the ecosystem of care for youth and how play based practices can make a difference across all of those relationships and settings. 

Attendees will:

  • Identify the various roles within the ecosystem of care for kids’ mental health
  • Learn about the benefits of universal supports and protective factors on youth mental health
  • Understand how play positively supports youth mental health
  • Take away practical tips for utilizing play in your roles

This webinar will begin at 12pm ET / 11am CT / 10am MT / 9am PT  and will last approximately one hour. It will be recorded and the recording will be available following the event. 



Headshot of Gigi Chawla

Gigi Chawla, MD, MHA, pediatrician, received her medical degree and business degree from the University of MN and is the Vice President and Chief of General Pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota. In her role, she has oversight over primary care, rehabilitation services, and mental, developmental, and behavioral health, including development of an inpatient mental health pediatric unit, and partial hospitalization mental health programs. She is often called upon by the media for her pediatric expertise and is a regular contributor for the Minnesota Parent’s column and WCCO’s segment to “Ask the Pediatrician.” Her clinical areas of interest are the outpatient and inpatient care of complex special needs patients, premature infants, and ventilator dependent children. Dr. Chawla is also instrumental in advancing the organization’s forward-looking efforts around community engagement. Through internal efforts to better integrate school based care, primary care with behavioral health, social support services for families, as well as, external advocacy with government groups, she works to create an environment for child health that extends beyond the clinic. She is a Board Member and the state’s Medical Director for Reach Out and Read Minnesota. She’s been consistently named to Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine’s and Minnesota Monthly magazine’s Top Doctors annual list. In 2020, she received the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Women in Business Honoree award; and in 2023, she received the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST Honoree award for Health and Well-Being. She is a Board Member and Vice President of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice. She is a member of the National Quality Forum’s Prevention and Population Health Committee. She has two amazing daughters who are changing the world.


Elizabeth Cushing is CEO of Playworks, a national organization dedicated to ensuring access to safe and healthy play for all kids. During her tenure Elizabeth has led Playworks’ scaling strategy, growing from a San Francisco Bay Area-focus to a national organization reaching more than 700,000 children every year. She is an advocate for collaboration amongst youth development organizations and is committed to making sure every kid gets to play every day.





headshot of Jessica DriscollJessica Driscoll is the Assistant Principal at Marcy School for the Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Prior to her role as an administrator, Jess served as a teacher at the 1st and 2nd grade levels and worked in the capacity of both Instructional Specialist and Literacy Coach. Jess strives to create a school culture that nurtures the whole child while cultivating a strong community of students, staff, and families.







Headshot of Dr Arwa Nasir HeadshotDr. Arwa K. Nasir, MBBS, MSc, MPH is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. She is the chair of the AAP Committee on the Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. Her research focuses on the impact of family psychosocial wellbeing on child development and behavior, and the incorporation of family science and behavioral health into primary care pediatric practice and residency training. She is also engaged in global health research with a focus on the cross-cultural aspects of behavioral conditions and autism. Dr. Nasir spent the 2019/2020 academic year as a Fulbright scholar in Jordan teaching and researching cross cultural aspects of pediatric behavioral health.



Headshot of Dr. Michael PatrickDr. Michael D. Patrick, Jr. is a board-certified pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He also serves as an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and an Attending Physician with the Section of Emergency Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Additionally, Dr. Patrick hosts the PediaCast and PediaCast CME Podcasts.