Our board

Adrian Voce, UK
Adrian is an advocate, writer, and consultant on policy and planning for children’s play. He is the author of Policy for Play – responding to children’s forgotten right (Policy Press, 2015). Previously, as the founding director of Play England, Adrian was the main architect of the Play Strategy for England (2008-11), advising the government, drafting and commissioning guidance documents, and directing the support services for local authorities. He is the network’s current president, and managing director of the new not-for-profit, Playful Planet, which organises the network’s activities. Adrian was a founder of the Playwork Foundation and is on the board of Playing Out. He has an MA in Professional Studies in Children’s Play, and was awarded an OBE in 2011, for services to children.

Jeanette Fich Jespersen, Denmark
Jeanette is the International Manager of the KOMPAN Play Institute (KPI). Qualified in languages and culture, she has taught at universities in Germany and Denmark. At KPI she has built up an expertise in R&D and play advocacy, bridging the theoretical and practical approaches to playgrounds, play equipment design and play. Jeanette’s role with KOMPAN focuses on the child and society benefits of play: health, learning and social inclusion. Jeanette is on the advisory board of FIIBL (Centre for Sports and Learning) at the University of Southern Denmark, and vice president of IPA (International Play Association) Denmark. She is the network’s current vice-president.

Maria Nordström, Sweden
Maria is the Visiting Senior Researcher and Associate Professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, where she specialises in research within an environmental psychology framework. She has extensive experience of working with planners and urban developers, developing and championing evidence-based child impact assessments for housing and planning policy. Maria is the current chair of the network’s scientific committee.

Darijana Hahn, Germany
Darijana Hahn is a doctor of cultural anthropology working as a lecturer at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg, where she encourages her students to develop their awareness of children’s right to play and enjoy their own cultural lives.  As a member of the German Union of the Child’s Right to Play, Dr Hahn worked on the German contribution to the UN’s General Comment on the Child’s Right to Play (2013). She is a published author and a freelance journalist on subjects of urban planning and observes how adults also fight for more freedom in the city, for more open spaces and more sense of community.

Marianne Labre, Belgium
Marianne is a social worker for the city of Ghent, Belgium. From 1997-2012 she developed the city’s play area policy, pioneering the strategy and concept of the ‘play-tissue’: a ‘spider-web’ of formal and informal youth-places in the city, and the connection between these places. As chair of the cross-sector planning group, she led the youth play area policy; developing a manual for realizing the ‘play tissue’ of play streets, adventure playgrounds and other spaces and projects. Since 2012, she has been the director of Ghent’s child and youth-friendly city programme, working with many different departments and partners to develop an ‘integrated and integral’  approach to the city’s child and youth-friendly policy.

Josip Grgurić, Croatia
Josip is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Zagreb, School of Medicine. He is the contributing editor of Preventive and Social Paediatrics and was recently presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for the promotion of the rights of the child by the Croatian Parliament. Josip has published over 350 academic papers, co-authored 10 books and and led many scientific projects in different aspects of child and adolescent health and well being. In 2014-17 he led the expert group responsible for revising the methodology of Croatia’s “Towns and Districts – Friends of Children” programme. He is a member of ISSOP (International Society for Social Pediatrics & Child Health).

Our Founder

Jan Van Gils, Belgium
Jan was director of the Centre for Childhood & Society in Ghent for 25 years, until his retirement in 2010. He is the author of many influential papers on social pedagogy and children’s rights. He is a recognised world authority on children’s participation in the planning and governance of their environments, and was for many years chair of the International Council for Children’s Play.
On his retirement in 2016, Jan was made honorary life-president of the network.