Funding from Baltimore Community Foundation and PNC Grow Up Great®, plus Partnerships with Maryland Judy Centers and David and Dad’s Cafe help children and families continue to play, learn and grow.
The COVID pandemic has disrupted lives in countless ways…events have been canceled, schools have gone virtual, child care centers have closed, layoffs have become reality. The stress that is causing children and families is real – and is taking a severe toll on caregivers and children in a myriad of ways.
At Port Discovery, we know that play can provide some help and relief – it not only helps children learn, but helps them build connections with their loved ones, helps them cope with stress and trauma, and helps support their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
That understanding has led to the creation of Project PlayPack, a Port Discovery initiative that pairs essential play and learning items that can be used again and again with suggested activities designed to help children and families during this difficult time.
After an initial distribution of more than 2,600 PlayPacks to children dealing with food insecurity and other difficult circumstances, Port Discovery took Project PlayPack to the next level. With support from Baltimore Community Foundation and PNC Grow Up Great®, we partnered with Baltimore-based David and Dad’s Cafe, and Baltimore area Judy Centers located within Title I Schools to create and distribute a series of nutritious meals and PlayPacks paired with Virtual Early Language & Literacy programming to local children and families dealing with a variety of difficult circumstances.
As part of this initiative, more than 85 families served by the Judy Centers at Liberty, Curtis Bay, Arundel, and Harford Heights Elementary Schools received a series of three PlayPacks filled with activity sheets and play items encouraging physical play, dramatic play, parallel play, and cooperative play. In addition, each PlayPack included a book, musical instrument, song and rhyme sheet, and access to a virtual Mother Goose on the Loose® Early Language and Literacy program where children, families, and caregivers could connect, learn and play together.
Our catering partner, David and Dad’s Café, delivered each of the PlayPacks directly to the doorsteps of each family along with a breakfast or lunch pack serving five.
The children, families, caregivers, and Judy Center staff that participated in this initiative have shared their gratitude for the play, learning, and joy that this program has provided.
Now, more than ever, children and families need opportunities and support that help them through this difficult time. Thanks to Port Discovery staff, community partners, and funders, many local children and families have had the opportunity to play, learn, connect and grow despite the challenges COVID-19 has brought their way.