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No Talking! No Running! No Tag! Brilliant 9-Year-Old’s TED Talk!

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Read Time: 2 minutes

Wow, wow, wow! We are THRILLED to present Gwen Coffey’s rousing TEDx KIDS talk at Rancho San Diego Elementary School. (And we didn’t even know her when she did it!) Listen to what Gwen says about the importance of trust, tools, play. And how it feels to grow up in a “No talking! No running! No tag!” world! And why she says all schools should start a mixed-age, free play Let Grow Play Club.

When we tracked down Gwen, now 11 (she’s 9 in the video), and asked what inspired her talk. She wrote back:

I saw teachers and parents not letting kids be kids. It made me frustrated when staff at my school would always tell my friends and I, “No, no, no!” 

School staff would control us with restrictions because of safety concerns.  We couldn’t even run. I wrote this talk hoping to change the point of view of school staff and overprotective patents. I was hoping to inspire all to trust kids more. We can do a lot of things on our own, independently, without being controlled.  We just want some freedom and it’ll help us figure problems out on our own and be independent. 

Gwen’s family: “Free kids from phones, fear, and us!”

Gwen’s family adds:

We are raising our kids like this because we want to give them opportunities to solve issues on their own.  We want to create independent kids. We provide them with tools and teach them how to do things safely, hoping they can do it on their own next time.

We think it’s unfair to give future generations the expectation of being good problem-solvers without giving them the opportunity to practice. We want them to experience different things free of fear, away from phones, and technology, and us! Adventures teach them that sometimes thing don’t go according to plan and you need to pivot and overcome. 

How to bring back talk, running, tag, and joy:

Here at Let Grow we agree! And we salute the Rancho San Diego teacher who spearheaded this student TEDx talk initiative, Arabella Wang.

Folks, if you, too, are fed up with the No Talking, No Running, No Tag childhood, ask your school to start a Let Grow Play Club. It’s a great way for kids to relate to each other in a no-phone-zone! Start a club is straightforward and all our materials are free.

AND if you have a spunky Let Grow kid who wants to make a super-short video about why they love their independence and free play — or YOU want to make a short video about why you give these to them — please send it to us at [email protected]!


  1. Lon GLon G says:

    My oldest went to daycare pre-covid and came home with all kinds of nonsense: “running is dangerous” and “dirt will make me sick” and “if I climb up on a chair to reach the counter I’ll fall and hurt myself.” The poor kid was actually terrified to help me in the garden. We were lucky to hire a nanny during covid and never looked back. We had a few good years of running and mud pies. My youngest is starting daycare in the summer and I’m dreading the de-programming that will be required. “Dirt at home makes you healthier. Running is not dangerous here. Climbing is good for you.”

  2. BarbaraBarbara says:

    Many adults don’t realize how beneficial running is. All that weight bearing exercise builds strong bones; it supports development of the respiratory system, the heart and muscles. Laying this foundation of physical strength and well being in childhood deters problems in later life. Children are blessed in that they take joy in exactly what their bodies need to grow. They are not being protected by being told not to run, we steal their joy, their enthusiasm for life, and discourage healthy physical development

  3. CaryCary says:

    I was recently walking past the playground of a local elementary school. About a half-dozen kids were running around randomly, and a boy reached out and tapped a girl on the shoulder. Suddenly a woman’s near-hysterical voice screeched, “No! No running! Connor, you do not touch the girls!”

    Being old sometimes sucks, but when I think of how childhood was sixty years ago, compared to now, I am full of joy that I was a kid then, instead of today.