“As a female entrepreneur, I find it exciting to see other woman-owned businesses take off and grow successfully.”
~ Diana Parafiniuk, founder of E-Therapy
We were introduced to PlaySpark and their green screen activities by one of our E-Therapists who became a big fan of theirs when their company started growing during COVID. PlaySpark started in 2016, but since stay-at-home orders were issued in 2020, they began to really put their plan into full effect. Serena Murison, MS, CCC-SLP and Kylie Jeffrey, MS, OTR/L recognized the need for a smooth transition from in-person learning to engaging virtual learning that many pediatric therapists craved. They created a green screen kit and other resources, and the rest is history!
Please enjoy this interview we did with PlaySpark. We hope you enjoy this dynamic duo as much as we do.
ET: Hi Kylie and Serena! Can you please give us a little background on yourselves?
K&S: Serena is an SLP and Kylie is an OT who both work in pediatric home health in Asheville, North Carolina. We would frequently co-treat together and share client cases. Both of us specialize in working with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
ET: Your ideas and business blossomed after stay-at-home orders were issued. Do you anticipate PlaySpark’s continued growth after many therapists go back to in-person sessions?
K&S: Green screen use in teletherapy is here to stay. Our hope is that therapy practice will continue to function with a hybrid model and therapists can continue to use these resources for many years to come. We also see a lot of benefit with using our resources with children in rural areas who can’t access in person services.
ET: You wrote “We would brainstorm ideas to share with the group, and upload videos each week.” How do you work together to develop the content you create? Is there a process you follow?
K&S: Our intent is to always create resources that are rooted in play. Play is the common thread all pediatric therapists share. We like to keep our resources open ended and flexible so that therapists can modify them to each child’s needs.
ET: You never conducted teletherapy prior to COVID, and found it challenging to convince families that teletherapy would work. “…We were both struggling to convince families that teletherapy was an equal alternative to our in-person sessions.” How have your thoughts about teletherapy evolved since you started creating, utilizing, and sharing green screen activities?
K&S: Teletherapy can be just as effective as in-person services. With high quality digital resources and knowledge of parent coaching, high levels of progress can be achieved through this service model.
ET: What did you notice about student engagement and goal progress when you began incorporating green screen activities into your sessions? How can you keep this momentum with in-person sessions?
K&S: When we started implementing green screen activities in our teletherapy sessions we saw engagement improve instantly. Using this therapy modality is enjoyable for both the therapist and the child. Children learn best when they are using their imaginations. Entering into virtual adventures during sessions has allowed for a high level of progress due to high motivation and engagement. This momentum can continue to be maintained during in-person sessions by continuing to surround sessions around play and imagination.
ET: How did parents respond to the use of green screen activities?
K&S: Parents also love green screen activities! They love to see their children experience joy and continue to make progress despite not being able to access in person sessions. Green Screen use in therapy also increases professionalism. When you use a green screen in therapy, you no longer appear to be in a corner in your house. You can display any type of background. We frequently use backgrounds with our company logo or a virtual office.
ET: Has attendance risen since the use of green screen activities?
K&S: Yes, clients can not wait to sign in to sessions!
ET: How did you combat connectivity issues and/or background noise/distractions?
K&S:It is best to troubleshoot these issues when therapy is initiated. With green screen use, we have found that there is less lag time overall than when sharing a screen with an internet browser.
ET: Do students primarily participate from home using phones, iPads, chromebooks, or laptops?
K&S: Ideally a client would participate at home using a laptop, but all other methods are compatible with green screen.
ET: How do you organize your activities for your sessions?
K&S: We both create a loose plan before each session and follow the child’s lead and what interests them. It is great to have multiple green screen activities pre-loaded and prepared to stay flexible in sessions.
ET: There is an e-commerce component to PlaySpark. What prompted you to start that and do you foresee that as a way to keep the resources free? Any plans to expand?
K&S: We saw a need and wanted to support distance learning professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. We sell green screen distance learning kits to make it easier for professionals to get started with green screen right away. Currently all of our virtual backgrounds are free and this is something we hope to continue to do.
ET: What is your top advice for SLPs, OTs, PTs, Counselors, and special educators who may be considering incorporating green screen activities?
K&S: Our best advice is to jump outside of your comfort zone and try using a green screen. Many think that they are not technologically savvy enough to use a green screen, but it is actually really simple. We have seen green screens change the course of therapy for clinicians of all age ranges.
Thank you to Kylie and Serena! You can find more about them and using green screens for teletherapy at Play Spark.
Learn how to make your own green screen!
Check out how to create your own Green Screen so you can play online games with your teletherapy students.