Amethyst Place at Planet Play
Planet Play hosted Amethyst Place families in our Pop-Up Play Lab at 5508 Troost in March 2019. Thank you to Kathryn Evans, Director of Development at Amethyst Place, who shared the thoughts below after our partnership event. We can’t wait to welcome Amethyst Place families back to Planet Play!
Planet Play recently opened its doors to Amethyst Place for the afternoon. From the moment they walked through the doors, the parents and children were thrilled about the multitude of opportunities the play space provides. For the Amethyst Place children, who have survived traumatic experiences such as parental substance use, domestic violence, and homelessness, this was a unique and meaningful experience that let them just be kids.
The idea for this collaboration came from a conversation one rainy Saturday morning during open play at Planet Play. Kathryn Evans, Director of Development at Amethyst Place, was visiting with her two‐year old daughter. “My child loves Planet Play and I love seeing children from different backgrounds come together in one shared space,” Kathryn says. “I’m also realizing how critical it is for her to have a safe space to explore her limits and see what she is capable of.”
Kathryn spoke to Planet Play staff about the children at Amethyst Place, who could benefit from unstructured play. Planet Play reserved a time slot for Amethyst Place kids, and they had free reign for almost two hours. Abby Kay, who provides therapy services to Amethyst Place kids, was extremely pleased with how they interacted with the space. “I witnessed children playing in developmentally‐ appropriate ways with limited adult intervention,” Abby recalls. “They took risks by climbing on the blocks and embraced silliness by playing dress up. It all occurred so naturally.”
Abby also appreciated the attachments that were made as mothers played with their children. In families with multiple children, mothers divided their time between siblings, leaving the children feeling fulfilled rather than in competition for mom’s attention. These attachments are especially important at Amethyst Place, where 70% of children have been in the care of someone other than their mother, and many have been recently reunited with mothers who are parenting sober for the first time.
Most of the mothers and many of the children have experienced high levels of trauma. “Because trauma impacts the brain in the moment that it happens, both our moms and their kids need to rewire their brains so that they are not stuck in that moment,” Abby says. “Play gives their brains an opportunity to build new and healthier pathways that will help them heal from their traumatic past.”
The afternoon also gave moms a much‐needed break where they could witness their children having fun in a safe environment. Amethyst Place residents are single moms who work, go to school, and participate in drug treatment most of the week. “It was a good break,” says Taylor. “I got to play with them, but I also got to sit and chat with the other moms. That doesn’t happen too much.”
The location of Planet Play – in the middle of the city and on a major bus line – was a big draw for the Amethyst Place moms, most of whom rely on public transportation. This feature, along with the reduced prices for low‐income families, were cited as the main reasons that Amethyst Place families would make a return trip to Planet Play.
As for the kids’ opinions? In the words of Taylor’s 5‐year old daughter Sophia: “I like everything at the play place. Let’s do it again!”