|Playspace Activities Leader (PAL) Liz McKee makes a paper airplane with one of the children at Angel House in the newly redesigned playspace room by Horizons for Homeless Children.|
Opportunities for play are vital for the growth of any child. It may be even more important for children who have experienced significant trauma like those at HAC’s Angel House shelter.
Because of that, Horizons for Homeless Children, a nonprofit based out of Roxbury focused on improving the lives of young homeless children in Massachusetts, has made recreation a priority for those it serves through its Playspace Program.
In Southeastern Massachusetts, Horizons has helped fund and design playspaces for 29 shelters including Angel House. The HAC shelter has two indoor playspaces, one for babies and toddlers and the other for older children, the latter of which recently received a facelift courtesy of Horizons.
At the end of April, there was a ribbon cutting held to showcase the new space for older children. The space for younger ones also received new furniture and materials though the work was not as extensive. Twice a week, children are given the opportunity to explore these rooms and the toys and books found inside under the direction of Playspace Activity Leaders, or PALs.
Lin Rohr, facility director of Angel House, said these spaces serve as an invaluable resource for children at the shelter. “They usually have enough volunteers so if a child has the need for a one-on-one experience, they can get that, which is incredible,” she said.
Every five to 10 years, Horizons will fund a complete reinstall of the playspace which was done with the one for older children. “We are redoing them so they are up to current design standards,” said Meghan Schafer, the playspace program director for Horizons. At Angel House that meant changing the layout of the room, the colors on the wall and floor and adding new toys, books and furniture.
As her son played nearby, Victoria Chase, a mother staying at Angel House, said she was thankful for Horizon’s generosity. “I think the kids get a lot of use out of this and it’s a safe place for them to play,” she said. “And it’s great for people like Horizons to spend time with our kids.”