A Community PlaySpace: Nurturing East Harlem's Babies, Toddlers, Caregivers, and Families through Collaboration and Play

Project Return Foundation
Kathryn Morrison and Lawrence Murray
Janet Buggle, DeShele Dorsey, Jessica Kohnen Karaska, Karen Sullivan, Daphne Wang

The overcrowded conditions and lack of interior spaces in urban areas can limit infant and toddler learning opportunities and promote family isolation. In order to adequately address this growing concern in the East Harlem community, Project Return Foundation, a not-for-profit, multi-service organization, in collaboration with three social service agencies and three educational institutions, begun to develop a program model for a multiple use, indoor space designed to meet the developmental needs of children 0-3 years old. The Capstone team assisted these organizations in developing the PlaySpace model by providing research on the developmental needs of children 0-3, evaluating established models, analyzing guidelines for creating recreational spaces, and providing programmatic design and funding strategies. The range of services suggested by the Capstone team includes recreational and educational services for infants and toddlers. The PlaySpace will also function as a resource center for parents, foster parents, caretakers and childcare providers by offering peer groups, training, and referral services.