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Best of Luck to Prince George’s County Program Manager, Bryanna Beamer

Woman playing tambourine with child sitting on the floor

2024 marks Playtime’s third year of offering play programs in Prince George’s County. Since launching our services here, we have learned a lot about the area, our site partners, and the needs of the participants we serve. This, in large part, has been due to the work of our very first Prince George’s County Program Manager, Bryanna Beamer. Over the years, she has prospected, problem-solved, and personally walked participants home from our programs in order to ensure our children were happy and safe. Our programs in Greenbelt, Capitol Heights, and Beltsville are better because of her. Now Bryanna is embarking on a new journey, and while we are sad for Playtime, we are delighted and excited for her. Before she left, we asked her to reflect on her time at Playtime, while we reflect on the many contributions she has made to the organization and to the children and families we serve. 

"Bryanna worked tirelessly to provide safe, engaging spaces for families to enjoy and grow in together. Bryanna's amazing efforts in Prince George's County have shown us that Playtime Project can and should always be able to adapt to best meet the needs of the families we serve. She will be missed by staff, partners, and most importantly, the families that she helped support. Good luck!"                    Jordan Clayton, Senior Program Manager

What interested you in Playtime Project’s work initially?

My background is in child development and trauma healing through expressive arts. I also did research on how learning is facilitated through play in the classroom, so I was really drawn to Playtime because of their emphasis on trauma-informed play in shelters. I had a lot of the theoretical and technical skills associated with this area of study, but didn't have as much field experience, which is what I wanted. I was also interested in learning more about the data analytics side of measuring impact and having the ability to adapt my programs accordingly.

"During spring break camp this year, one of the activities we had kids doing was creating their own movies. Bryanna was working with a group of older kids who decided to recreate a song from Encanto, and Bryanna fully committed to the video: lip syncing, using a ton of props, and just putting her all into it, even if the kids laughed at her. I think that moment just really encapsulated Bryanna so perfectly. She puts her everything into the things she commits to, whether that’s helping to write a policy manual or helping kids bring their vision to life.”             Nicolien Buholzer Fox, Program Director 

How would you describe the work you’ve done? What was your favorite part of the job?  

Overall, the work that I have been doing at Playtime has been rewarding. Being able to build relationships with the kids and trust with the parents is incredibly satisfying knowing that each week they are looking forward to coming to Playtime Project again. It's a fun job that boils down to being a kid with the kids. It also came with challenges, of course. Navigating internal and external expectations of what Playtime should be with the realities and limitations on the ground pops up with any job. There were times when we lacked volunteers or had more demand for Playtime than could be accommodated. Most recently, many Playtime sites have skewed to infants and toddlers, where my experience has been elementary and up, which requires a completely different approach to building curriculum. What kept me going was the enjoyment I had just being with the kids.

One of my favorite parts of the job was developing curriculum because I basically got to plan activities that I could enjoy doing too. With my background in trauma healing, I loved activities that focused on our social-emotional domain—mindful eating, sand art color wheel, developing calming corners. It also gave me a chance to further develop those skills within myself. I also love working with my program team. The friendships that I built are ones that I hope will remain for a lifetime.

“Bryanna launched Playtime’s first spring break camp and forged our partnership with Free Art for All, which grew into our first community-based program in Prince George’s County,” said Jamila Larson, Playtime’s Executive Director. “She’s a trailblazer one moment and sitting down 1:1 connecting with a child the next!”

What memories, lessons, or knowledge from working at Playtime will you take with you? 

Working with kids, you get to see the milestones and changes that they go through, which is something I can always cherish. I've seen kids speak some of their first words, watched reactive kids develop into some of the most empathetic kids, and have been able to be there for them when their world seems to fall apart. I've also been able to develop friendships with both the parents and the pre-teens, reminding them that they aren't alone. Sometimes, that's all they need.

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