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What We Do

Why Play?

Benefits of Play

Playing Outdoors

Photo by Jordan Burns

Play is essential for children’s cognitive, physical, and emotional well-being, both at home and at school. ~ American Academy of Pediatrics

Play can often be dismissed as a simple form of entertainment, but playing is important for growing children. Play and exploration are integral to helping a young child's brain develop in optimal ways.

  1. enhances physical health, 
  2. contributes to healthy brain development, 
  3. helps forge connections between children,
  4. reduces stress and increases confidence and resiliency,
  5. develops empathy for others and explores adult roles through role-playing games, 
  6. builds confidence and conquers fears, and 
  7. stimulates creative thought and enhances fine motor skills through arts and crafts activities.

Though it's well-documented that housing insecurity causes physical, emotional, and developmental harm to children, resources are often limited or inaccessible. Recreation is severely restricted in most shelters, making play even more critical as a healing force for children living in transition. A disproportionate number of children in shelters suffer from emotional, behavioral, and learning problems.

Child and puppets

Photo by Christina Heckart

Playtime staff and volunteers work to protect the right of children experiencing housing insecurity to learn and heal through play by creating safe, trauma-informed, and developmentally appropriate play spaces. Playtime programming reduces potential trauma by engaging youth cognitively, physically, and emotionally, allowing children to build healthy relationships with caring adults and other children.

In mid-March 2020, Playtime paused programming in the playrooms due to COVID-19 and began sending out Playtime-to-Go kits to approximately 125 children with each shipment to all our partner shelter sites. In the fall of 2020, we began providing socially distant play at two of our partner sites. We paused programming once again as the pandemic surged into 2021. Finally, in April 2021, Playtime was thrilled to relaunch in-person programming at all our partner shelter sites.

Read how Playtime stayed connected with families during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Resources on the Benefits of Play