WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- The Homeless Children's Playtime Project sites offer recreational activities and opportunities for children to interact with other youngsters. For two hours, youngsters can relax and play like normal children.
Each week, Loretta Jones brings her son and daughter to the Northwest Church Family Network site on New York Avenue. Loretta Jones explains that when her children first began going to Playtime, they did not like it. Eventually, she says, they grew to love it, "My son used to scream because he didn't want to come. Now he screams when it's time to go." She is glad that her children no longer feel the need to be around her as much and instead enjoy the company of other kids.
Eight years ago, Executive Director, Jamila Larson and a friend started the volunteer program to help homeless children succeed. Their belief was that youngsters in shelters suffer from emotional, behavioral and learning problems. Larson explains, "When children have gone through multiple traumas in their lives ranging from domestic violence, to eviction, to loosing their belongings or family members, one of the most powerful ways to heal from trauma is through play."
There are more than 120 volunteers working at 5 shelters in D.C. Those like Kathleen Fawcett, are rewarded by creating childhood memories, "We've had field trips, we've had pretend slumber parties for children... we bring the pajamas and the popcorn to them and really let the kids experience what it is like to live a normal childhood.
As unemployment increases and housing options for the poor decline, the need for the Playtime Project becomes greater.