Horizons for Homeless Children reopens Playspaces

9/19/2022 — Horizons for Homeless children has been bringing play to children living in homeless shelters since the organization began in 1988. Understanding the lasting impact toxic stress and instability can have on developing children, Horizons creates trauma informed spaces in shelters dedicated to play, a vital aspect of childhood that children experiencing homelessness aren’t guaranteed.

Over the last two years, these Playspaces have been largely shuttered due to Covid precautions. Recent developments have allowed the team from Horizons to rebuild the volunteer force and reopen these vital spaces. They have safely reopened more than 50 Playspaces across the state. On September 19, 2022 the Playspaces in Amherst and Brockton will reopen too.

“We were supporting families outdoors and remotely for so many months. We are so pleased to now be welcomed back into the shelters to resume and grow what has been a program of great value to families and volunteers for decades,” said Lynne Gaines, Director of the Playspace Program.

Horizons can’t wait to serve kids in the community once again and give them the opportunity for dedicated playtime with trained, dedicated volunteers. The program will also resume the evening childcare that parents rely on allowing parents to attend meetings, courses or rest and recharge at the end of the day so they can better engage with their child.

“Volunteers are the backbone of everything we do at Horizons,” said Tara Spalding, Chief Development & Marketing Officer, “We need volunteers to provide kids access to our program, which is a gamechanger. Living in shelter can be chaotic and stressful, but we are able to provide a safe, healing place. Children literally heal through play, which is the beauty of the Playspace program.”

As Playspaces reopen, new volunteer positions are becoming available. Shifts are two hours once a week and all volunteers receive training, ongoing support and the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and families. Volunteers who are 16 or 17 years old may participate with parental supervision. Potential volunteers can learn more about the program here.

“I have a friend who has been in and out of the shelter system with two children. I saw how debilitatingly hard it can be as a mom to live in a shelter and to experience homelessness,” said Robin Hauck a Playspace Volunteer. “That inspired me to get involved and I am so glad I did.  Horizons has enabled me to give back to families like my friend’s and that experience has been one of the best things in my life.”

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