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Charitas
51 Sherbrooke W., Montreal, QC. Canada, H5Z 4T9.

(Please mention in the check for which cause you donate).

Funding Area: Health

The mission of the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project (Playtime) is to cultivate resilience in children experiencing family homelessness by providing and expanding access to transformative play experiences.

We do this by:

  • Creating ongoing play opportunities that nurture healthy child development
  • Challenging systemic injustice by advocating for policies and practices that reduce the risk of chronic homelessness
  • Connecting families with critical support services and supplies in the community to meet their concrete needs

Our involvement: The Marty Tomberg Charitable Fund has financially supported this organization.

Projects We Support

Expanding Playtime Pilot Program
Playtime currently serves nearly 150 children experiencing homelessness each week, ages 6 months to 12 years, through year-round, twice weekly play programs. We set up playrooms with developmentally appropriate toys and activities, to help children build resiliency and nurture their healthy social, emotional, and physical development. Programming is customized by age group, serving children 6 months to 3 years old, 3-7 years old, and 8-12 years old. We recruit and train 250 volunteers each year; each makes a three-month, weekly commitment to help guide play for children. At the end of each Playtime, children receive a healthy snack. Our social worker meets with high-need families, providing case management and referring parents to resources such as childcare. 

Playtime has developed a research- and best practice-based curriculum, including a mix of free and structured play activities, that guides volunteers in their interactions with the children. Staff and volunteers offer a free-play environment that empowers children to choose how they want to play—most don’t have much autonomy in their lives. We provide toys that offer a variety of play options, from dramatic play (costumes for dress-up, toy kitchen sets, etc.), to expressive play (crayons, watercolors, etc.), to constructive play (building blocks, Magna- Tiles, Legos, etc.). These activities foster creative problem solving, enhance social-emotional skills, and instill optimism. Giving children the choice of how to play and what to play with encourages healthy child development. In addition to free play, each month our curriculum and evaluation specialist creates a menu of guided-play activities that corresponds to a monthly theme. These guided-play activities (detailed in The Playbook, our guide for volunteers) allow children to explore topics of interest in developmentally appropriate ways and give the children something to look forward to. Playtime’s curriculum also includes monthly field trips. Children have visited the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, National Aquarium, Imagination Stage, Cox Farms, and a Washington Nationals game. These field trips allow youth to experience their city in a whole new way, broadening their world view, building contextual knowledge, and fostering curiosity beyond their immediate environment. 

Tomberg support will fund the pilot program at MSP, which requires a new model with a part-time program associate overseeing daily operations. 

Support Dates: March, 2020 – Ongoing

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