Source: The KY Standard
April 8, 2018
Bernheim’s Children at Play Network has launched a new project called Seeds for Urban Play to bring the benefits of outdoor free play to more children in Louisville neighborhoods.
Thanks to a grant from Brown-Forman, CAPN staff launched training for New Directions Housing Corporation staff and participants in addiction recovery programs at ChooseWell Communities’ Project Thrive.
New Directions Housing Corporation develops and maintains affordable housing in Jefferson County and southern Indiana. ChooseWell Communities’ Project Thrive provides family-centered support to parents early in addiction recovery, who commit to raising their young children in safe, healthy and drug-free homes.
The Seeds for Urban Play will focus on support for outdoor play in several Louisville neighborhoods where access to outdoor play can be more limited.
Bernheim established the Children at Play Network to help organizations, schools and communities create amazing places to play outdoors, and apply best practices to better connect children to the natural world.
Studies repeatedly show that self-directed free play in nature is not only essential for health and well-being, but also contributes positively to academic performance in children.
“Play is critical to physical, intellectual, social and emotional development,” said Claude Stephens, director of Bernheim’s Children at Play Network. “Thanks to the support of corporations like Brown-Forman, we are building a network of regional champions who have the tools and training to facilitate outdoor free play.”
Stephens said that initially, the CAPN hosted free play days throughout the region, but a growing awareness about the value of play led to more demand. “Network building means helping people grow their own capacity. By assisting New Directions and ChooseWell, we can help ensure more children have amazing play opportunities more often,” Stephens said.
Mother of two Elizabeth Stocker is participating in the training. She said she is leaving inspired and motivated to help her children and others in her neighborhood experience the benefits of free play.
“I learned with just some rope, boxes, blocks and logs you have the tools you need for kids to not only have fun but be imaginative, creative and curious,” Stocker said. “The ChooseWell program encourages families to spend more time in nature. I’m looking forward to using what I’ve learned to create more opportunities for my children, other Project Thrive families and our neighbors to realize the benefits of outdoor free play.”
As part of the grant, trainees including Stocker will receive free play materials to use at their location.
Stephens said the initiative is incredibly important to Bernheim as it works to grow the next generation of environmental stewards.
“The quality of a child’s play environment sets the stage for a lifetime of passion, interest and wonder since it is through play that children build their first connections to the natural world,” Stephens said. “Today we truly are planting the seeds for urban play.”
Once they complete the training, Stephens said CAPN leaders and the newly trained staff will host free play days at four of the New Directions housing developments, three in the West End and one in Newburg.
Stephens also thanked PNC Bank for their generous support that founded the Children at Play Network, through its PNC Grow Up Great initiative.
For more information about the Children at Play Network visit childrenatplaynetwork.com.