PLAY - the magical ingredient
In July of 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report that stressed the importance of a “prescription for play”. Citing a multitude of changes in childhood - such as a huge reduction in outside play, slashed recess time at school and preparation for testing, and an increased accessibility to technology, the AAP is telling their Pediatricians what early childhood educators have known for some time - that play is integral to a child's cognitive, social-emotional and self regulatory development. And it is extremely important for ALL children, regardless of a child’s abilities because play is imperative for the physical and mental health of the young child.
A House in Austin sees children with all levels of ability and often our children are working with Early Intervention (EI) therapists. EI are services for children with special needs during the critical years 0-3) and are based on, carried out with, and assessed by play.
In 2018, Child and Family Connections (an AHIA partner organization) reported over 25,000 active cases of young children requiring EI. Whether it be for occupational therapy, speech therapy, developmental therapy, or physical therapy, these services always take place where a child "lives, learns, and plays". So, usually EI therapists work with a child in their home. But, many EI therapists report that children living in poverty do not have access to play materials nor do they play outside. This has a detrimental effect on the child's ability to learn and develop the skills necessary to fit the criteria of "typically" developing.
The 2012 Census recorded 20% children (that's 15 million+) live in poverty, a number that is staggering. 20-30% of families below the poverty threshold cannot provide the minimal financial, material or social resources to meet their child's need. And many children are exposed to crime, drug abuse, and substandard education - "human poverty". All of these put children at a high risk for physical and mental problems. Not to mention the likelihood of them growing up and living below the poverty line.
A House in Austin is one solution due to the fact we provide key opportunities for early intervention therapists and families:
- We give EI therapists and families the space to work together where the child "learns and plays".
- We offer a space with the play materials and toys that may not be present in a child’s home.
- We have the beginnings of a beautiful outdoor play space, full of exploration and discovery opportunities.
- Our organization offers a safe, secure space to work together.
In the new Parent Child Center at 533 N Pine Avenue, we support young children - a vulnerable population. We advocate for them and their needs. We partner with organizations who specifically work in the early intervention sphere. We help families to provide bright futures for their children through parent education, support, and connections to resources.
The cost of NOT doing this for families in struggling neighborhoods? Lost potential and lost lives.