The family shelter system in Massachusetts is primarily designed for adults, with staff focused on helping them reach self-sufficiency. However, there is often less bandwidth to support the extensive needs of children experiencing homelessness. That’s where Horizons for Homeless Children comes in.
What is a Playspace?
Playspaces are child-friendly rooms that Horizons has installed in more than 90 family homeless shelters across Massachusetts. Playspaces are designed to reflect the needs of children ages 0-6 experiencing trauma, creating a dedicated place for children to play and grow, and build connections with other caring adults who are committed to their success.
Playspaces are staffed by a dedicated volunteer corps of 1,000 PALs across the state of Massachusetts.
What is a Playspace Activity Leader (PAL)?
PALS, or Playspace Activity Leaders, are volunteers who staff Horizons’ Playspaces. And by staff, we mean play! PALs go to their assigned shelter for a 2 hour shift each week to play with the children living there. We currently offer 340 Playspace shifts a week—which is 680 hours of play each week for the children living in shelters. The majority of our shifts take place Monday through Thursday in the evenings, but some programs also have morning or late afternoon shifts. Click here to learn how to become a PAL.
Already a PAL?
Our PALs are some of the most dedicated volunteers around, who make a real difference in the lives of the children they work with! That’s why we equip PALS with a myriad of resources, ensuring their success in our program. Click here to visit our PAL Academy for ideas and guidance about how to run a successful Playspace shift or here for additional contact information by region.