Kick off the summer with us June 24!

PlayCorps 2017 will kick off the summer at General Street Park with a Pop-Up Day of Play on Saturday, June 24th from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Build forts, blow bubbles, imagine stories, make anything, and meet the new PlayCorps team!

It will be like an entire summer of fun in one afternoon. Everyone is invited! The event is free and open to the public.

General Street Park is located off of Admiral Street in the Wanskuck neighborhood of Providence. It is located just behind the Recreation Department building at 11 West Drive.

Pop-Up Play Day 2016 at Roger Williams Park 

PlayCorps is Hiring for Summer 2016!

Providence PlayCorps – an innovative collaboration between the City of Providence’s Department of Parks + Recreation and Healthy Communities Office, the Partnership for Providence Parks, and Providence Children's Museum – activates low-income neighborhood parks across the city with free play, art and creative exploration in conjunction with the free federal summer meals program. For a third summer, PlayCorps is seeking energetic summer Play Leaders and Interns to facilitate and support creative and rewarding play experiences for Providence youth.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

PlayCorps Intern: Position Description and Application (Applications are closed)

PlayCorps Leader: Position Description and Application (Applications are closed)

Providence PlayCorps 2016 is supported by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the City of Providence’s Department of Parks + Recreation and Healthy Communities Office, a Health Equity Zone grant through the Rhode Island Department of Health, the Partnership for Providence Parks, Providence Children's Museum, and the Rhode Island Foundation.

Winter PlayCorps a Playful Success

Kids need to play all year long! So this December vacation, PlayCorps and the Partnership for Providence Parks teamed up with the Providence Recreation Department to offer a Winter PlayCorps program at GENERAL STREET PARK and at the adjacent Recreation building at 11 West Drive.

A staff of three play leaders from the summer program facilitated indoor and outdoor activities over the three-day program. With Imagination Playground blocks, giant cardboard boxes (generously donated by our friends at Raymour & Flanagan) and fabric, tape, chalk, and paint, the children (ages five to 14) created everything from robots to forts, houses and storefronts. Signs on these structures read "Come on in. We want you to have fun!" and "Knock! Don't just walk in!" Smaller art projects included fabric painting, colored mandalas, molded clay, and braided gimp bracelets.

Outside play was also a part of each day. PlayCorps provided mittens, hats, scarves, socks, and coats in case anyone didn't have cold-weather gear. In addition to running, swinging and ball play, the children took advantage of the snow on the second day to go sledding - a first time for some! With store-bought and handmade cardboard sleds, the kids raced down the General Street Park hill even as the snow turned to slush and then to mud.

As in the summer, healthy meals and snacks were a major component of each day. The children helped prepare fruit smoothies and meat and cheese sandwiches, and roasted their own hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire built in an outdoor container (this was also a new experience for many of the participants!) Introducing new and healthy foods was one goal of the program - some of the kids tried hummus for the first time. The menu was researched and developed by staff and high school students at the Providence Career & Technical Academy (PCTA).

In all, a total of 31 children participated in the Winter PlayCorps program. Some were transported from the Selim Rogers Recreation Center in Smith Hill and the rest came from the General Street neighborhood in Wanskuck. The third day had by far the highest attendance, demonstrating that more children attended as the word spread about all of the fun that everyone was having!

PlayCorps on Video!

Thanks to the Alliance for Childhood for producing this terrific new video by filmmaker Erin Davis that illustrates the impact of Providence PlayCorps!

Water Slides

As August comes to an end, what better time to reflect on one of summer's all-time favorite activities? Water slides! This summer, children created a variety of water slides in the PlayCorps parks. Here are a few examples:

At GENERAL ST PARK, the hills are perfect for slides - grassy with just-right slopes going down into the park itself. The children picked up on this right away and started using cardboard boxes as "sleds."  The team picked up on these play cues, and helped the kids build slides out of tarps and old banners. Once they added the water, they created an instant play sensation which was brought out on hot days for the rest of the summer.

At WALLACE ST PARK, the team and kids created water slides on tarps spread over the ground or even on the playground slides themselves. Play Leader Tina, however, didn't anticipate the kids trying to climb up the wet slides from he bottom. Tina was nervous at first that they would slip and get hurt, or that someone would slide down on top of them. But she respected the kids' choices and let them do it. When she took a step back, she watched as an amazing 3-year-old climbed all the way up the slide and pulled herself to the top. In that moment, Tina realized that if kids don't take risks, their comfort levels continue to shrink and they become adults that are mentally trapped in tiny bubbles. When they do take risks, push themselves and play freely, they grow into adults who are well adjusted and know how to explore their own boundaries, limits, and senses of fun.

One Thursday afternoon at BILLY TAYLOR PARK, kids took the water park to an entirely new level. It was a hot day, so an older boy— who was nicknamed “Peter Pan”recruited a following of “lost boys” to create a giant water slide. Earlier in the summer, the kids had discovered that wringing out the sponges over the slide made for a very fast and exciting ride. That day, Peter Pan decided to drag the kiddie pool to the bottom of the slide to create a splash-zone at the end. With his lost boys in tow, they filled the pool using the noodles, dragged it across to the playground, dunked themselves in the pool, then raced to the top to slide down as fast as they could. The PlayCorps team watched anxiously from a distance as the children attempted to land in the pool. Sometimes they slid too fast and would overshoot the pool. But still the team didn't intervene and allowed the children to play. The team paid close attention, noticing that when children did fall, they continued to laugh. The children also looked out for each other, checking on everyone after they took their turn, Soon the experimentation yielded a super fun and successful water slide rivaling any that one could imagine in NeverLand.

PlayCorps Dresses Up

Each PlayCorps team has a variety of fabrics and props on hand for various dress-up games. Here are some glimpses into the imaginary dress-up play that goes on in PlayCorps parks:

One Wednesday morning at BILLY TAYLOR PARK, a very special 6-year-old from Mt. Hope Learning Center got married. Dressed in a strapless gown with a flowing train and clutching a bouquet of pipe cleaner flowers, she scaled the playground’s rock walls, jumped from platforms and ran circles around the rest of us. Making dresses out of fabric scraps and binder clips has been a trend at this park, but the pretend wedding exceeded all expectations. Despite missing a groom, our bride was not alone. She was accompanied by a bridesmaid wearing a dress of white and blue fastened at the waist with yet another pipe cleaner flower. Both girls posed for a photo shoot as we chased after them, fixing their dresses as needed. Even with some cold feet right before the ceremony, it was a beautiful event, complete with the bride zip-lining away to her honeymoon.  

At BUCKLIN PARK one day, one child not only became Rapunzel by creating a cascade of pink hair for herself out of some fabric, but she also made herself a loyal unicorn out of some cardboard with a comb as the horn. She rode her unicorn throughout the park and even adorned herself with some pipe cleaner jewelry.

Casey and the Playmobile team have an especially impressive array of costumes and props on hand. Here's a story about the Playmobile, and some incredible dress-up play in DONIGIAN PARK:

"Let's have a fashion show," said an 8 year old girl to a group of kids while digging through a bin of costumes. Picking up on the 8-year-old's play cue, Play Leader Casey immediately said, "I think you need a stage. How about some cardboard?" As Casey ran to the Playmobile to grab some cardboard, Providence Children's Museum AmeriCorps members Catelyn and Paris (who accompanied Casey and the Playmobile this summer) set up a multi-colored parachute on the grass for the audience to sit on. 

"I know, let's make it a talent show" said one girl wearing a pink and black tutu, holding a ribbon wand, and two other girls picked up ribbon wands, too. Casey responded, "Great idea! Do you have stage names you want me to introduce you as?" "Chloe," " Ariel," and "Wonder Woman," they replied. "Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, now introducing the amazing Chloe, Ariel and Wonder Woman," proclaimed Casey in a theatrical voice. The three girls made shapes in the sky with rainbow ribbons and smiles on their faces, and the audience cheered. 

Next, a boy wearing an oversized shirt with balloons printed on it and oversized striped pants took the stage and told jokes. "What begins with a b, ends with a t, and looks like two mountains?" "A butt!" he exclaimed, and the kids roared with laughter. 

Next up, a boy asked to be introduced as the Daredevil Motorcyclist. He rode his bike down a small hill and then when he was on level ground, he stood on the pedals and lifted one foot. The audience cheered. One of the girls decided to become the MC and introduced the acts. Another boy put on multi-colored shorts, a giant bowtie and a striped hat and asked to be introduced as "Clown Swag." Then another boy grabbed all of the hula hoops and took the stage, trying to hoop with 10 hoops around his waist. 

Another boy grabbed a foam noodle and spun it around like a baton. The girls decided to make a limbo stick by holding a ribbon tight, and kids immediately began bending backward beneath it. One of the boys decided to anounce the acts next, and before long there were kids plate spinning, flag spinning, juggling, and more. For the grand finale, a boy put himself in a giant blue sparkling bag made of stretchy fabric. Another boy introduced him and he lay immobile on the ground. Then the announcer put woodchips on top and the bag, and the boy magically came to life!

Casey and the Playmobile team routinely found that the children at Donigian, and all the parks they visited, are endlessly inventive when given the space and materials to play. A simple idea from a child ... "let's have a fashion show" ... evolved into a full-scale, collaborative, and imaginative talent-show effort.

PlayCorps Climbs ...

Each PlayCorps team is trained to let kids assess their own risks. That essentially means that we let children do activities that might be deemed somewhat "unsafe" in a school environment because they're fun, and because children are often better at taking care of themselves than we give them credit for.

Because of this philosophy, the kids at our parks end up climbing ... on fences and trees as well as traditional play structures. Often as high as they can go. 

At HARRIET & SAYLES PARK, a boy we'll call "D" expressed interest in climbing a tree. The team was right there to support him. The adults around were very nervous and were questioning our boundaries, but the team reassured them that D could climb on his own and assess his own risks. When D needed it (not often), PlayCorps staff offered suggestions about where to put his foot or where to climb next. The parents stood aside and watched nervously as D climbed quite high in the tree. All the hard work paid off because D succeeded in helping to run some fabric around a high branch and secure a makeshift swing. Even the adults that had been most nervous were amazed and started to help the kids attach the a "seat" to the cloth to improve the swing. All of the Playcorps participants couldn't wait to take a turn!


At GENERAL ST PARK, kids found similar uses for the giant mulberry tree. The team there had been encouraging any interested kids to climb the lower, more horizontal branches. Some would only go up a few feet while others, as they felt confident, went all the way to the tip of the large branches. The kids squealed in delight when the staff stood below them and shook the branches or tried to grab their feet. The kids at General Street also made a swing that they hung from one of the branches with the help of a particularly nimble climber. Most kids requested that an adult push them as hard as they could on the swing. Even if they were scared, they, like all children, were adept at pushing themselves, assessing what is good play for them, and having fun – even in settings that might be deemed "unsafe" in a traditional school environment.

One sunny afternoon when the Playmobile was visiting BUCKLIN PARK, one of the children thought it would be fun to climb the tall fence behind home plate of the baseball field. Other kids saw how high he was climbing and decided to join in. The adults at the park became very nervous and started to yell at the kids to come down. Playmobile Play Leader Casey assured the adults that she was watching closely and that the kids were engaging in positive-risk taking. "It's sort of like rock-climbing," she said. "They are engaging their motor skills, motor planning, problem solving, and building muscles while maintaining balance." An adult replied, "it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt." Though it is true that when kids engage in risk-taking there is potential for injury, there was a great deal of adult supervision and arms extended to catch their fall. Casey and Bucklin's Play Leader Monique were not worried and they encouraged the children to continue climbing. They knew not to set limits about how high the kids could climb because the kids would know instinctively how high they were comfortable going. Although it was making the adults nervous, the kids were smart climbers, had smiles on their faces and felt a sense of accomplishment when they came down, knowing they had completed a challenging task.