The Power of Play with Dr. Debbie Rhea

The TBRI® Podcast | Season 4, Episodes 1 & 2

Today’s guest is Dr. Debbie Rhea. Dr. Rhea is the creator and director of the LiiNK Project. LiiNK, or Let’s Inspire Innovation N Kids, is an initiative to address the needs of the whole child by incorporating more unstructured, outdoor play as part of the school day.  Our host, Sarah Mercado, sat down with Dr. Rhea to talk about LiiNK and the importance of Play. This is a two-part series.  


Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Show Notes

LiiNK Project

About our guest:

Dr. Debbie Rhea is a full professor in Kinesiology and Associate Dean of Research and Health Sciences in HCNHS at Texas Christian University. She prepares K-12 physical education teachers and is fully invested in her newest research called LiiNK (Let’s inspire innovation ‘N kids) which examines whole child development through the addition of unstructured, outdoor play breaks and character development in the schools daily. Rhea has received national media attention as a result of LiiNK from many different news outlets such as The Today Show, the Washington Post, and the NBC Nightly News. She has published in numerous journals and presented professionally on many different topics related to living a healthy and productive life. Rhea has received the Healthcare Hero award from the Dallas Business Journal and the Fort Worth Business Press for her research to create intrinsically motivated active, healthy children. A native of Dallas, Rhea graduated from Dallas Public Schools, University of Texas at Arlington, and University of Houston. Go to for more information.

About our host:

Sarah Mercado is a Training Specialist with the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (KPICD). As training specialist, Sarah’s main focus is instructing professionals working with children who have experienced trauma, in Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®). TBRI®, a holistic, attachment-based, and trauma-informed intervention designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children, offers practical tools for caregivers to help those in their care reach their highest potential.

Sarah earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Sweet Briar College in Virginia. She began her career as a direct care staff working with adolescent boys living in a Residential Treatment Center (RTC). After serving in the RTC for several years, she shifted her focus to foster care, where she was Regional Director for a foster and adoption agency.

Sarah spent 20 years serving youth and families within residential and foster care settings as a direct-care worker and trainer before beginning her work with the Purvis Institute in May 2016. Sarah lives near Austin, TX with her husband, AJ, and their two children.

One Response to “The Power of Play with Dr. Debbie Rhea”

  1. Pat Rumbaugh

    Hearing Dr. Debbie Rhea speak about the LiiNK Project excites me to no end.This is the way every school should run their day.Children would benefit enormously from this approach and teachers would be able to be way more productive.I was fortunate to meet Debbie years ago at the US Play Coalition Conference.I can’t wait to listen to episode 2, season 4 on this subject.At Let’s Play America we believe everyone deserves to play.

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