Playspace Kits: Keeping Creativity Flowing
Play is an essential part of being a child and at Horizons, it is an essential part of our mission. As the COVID-19 crisis brings widespread uncertainty, one thing remains clear, Horizons is committed to giving children experiencing homelessness the opportunity to play.
After making the difficult decision to temporarily suspend Playspace shifts for volunteers, ensuring our children and extended community stay safe, Horizons’ Playspace team had to get creative to bring play to children quarantining in shelters.
At first, the Playspace team worked with shelter liaisons to keep the playrooms open, without volunteers, so that children could still have access to toy and art supplies. However, as guidelines developed, the team recognized that keeping playrooms in shelter open made following social distancing all but impossible, and wasn’t the best course of action.
“For families quarantining in shelter it can feel really isolating,” said Lynne Gaines, Playspace Director in Greater Boston. “The days can feel long and be really draining for parents, especially when those young children don’t have access to toys or other stimulating activities. Without diversions, making it through the day can be challenging for both parent and child.”
The Playspace team knew they had to do something to help families.
“Once the Playspaces closed we knew something had to be done. We just had to be innovative about how we could bring play safely to children,” said Gaines.
The Playspace team came up with the idea to create Playspace kits, bags filled with toys, art supplies, bubbles, mini musical instruments and books. The bags would then be delivered to shelters and distributed so that each family would have some of the same resources their child would typically access in Playspace, now in their own shelter room.
“Our goal was to give these children a creative outlet. All children need ways to get their energy out, through stimulating activities. They need books, toys, and art supplies. These care packages help fill that gap while Playspace is closed.”
Over the last few weeks, 600 kits were delivered to 16 shelters across greater Boston, and the Playspace team has plans to extend the program throughout the state. In addition to the greater Boston Playspace team, the Northeast Team has also begun delivering Playspace kits to shelters, including 11 programs earlier this week.
“The supplies we brought them, mainly games, art supplies and books, will give them something fun and creative to do,” said Stephen Croke, Director of the Northeast Playspace Program. “And, hopefully it will give parents a little time to themselves – I’m sure it’s stressful and tiring trying to keep the kids engaged and entertained.”
“We’re doing the best we can do to support families during this time. We have not forgotten about them and the commitment we made to them. Every child experiencing homelessness has the right to play, this time is no different,” added Lynne.
If you would like to help make sure our Playspace team can keep filling kits for children quarantining in shelter, visit our wishlist today or make a gift directly to Horizons COVID response efforts.
This post was written by Rachel San Giacomo, a regular contributor to Horizons’ blog