*Pat Rumbaugh is the author
People of all ages love to play and all you have to do to build a play community is find the playful folks around you. Our children’s librarian was the first person to tell me, “Pat, if anyone could start a play committee it could be you.” I was researching play and working on my children’s book, Let’s Play at the Playground. she suggested I put up flyers around town inviting people to a play meeting. I also reached out to people on list serves across our community.
On March 15, 2009, six other playful people joined me at an office provided by our Business Community. We had adults in there from twenty to eighty. The mayor, a business representative, father of a young child, two seniors, a computer specialist and myself all gathered to brainstorm about play. Oh what fun we had going around the room sharing how we dreamed of promoting play in our community of Takoma Park, Maryland.
After everyone spoke I shared I had recently heard about the nonprofit KaBOOM! If we decided to apply to be named A Playful City USA we would need to map our playgrounds, fill out an application and hold a Play Day. Well, it was unanimous, we would do this. In the next couple of weeks, we met weekly, worked on the application and came up with a date, time and location for our first Play Day.
After that I met with the Director of Recreation who was extremely supportive. She told me they would waive the fee for us to use Heffner Playground, which has an indoor space and an outdoor playground.
In the spring a new neighbor and her family moved to our community. Mary was staying at home with her two young daughters. She gave me the feeling she wanted to get involved, so I invited her to a play meeting and the next thing I knew Mary was helping us regularly.
Mary and others told me one day, “Pat we need money and think we should hold a yard sale.” I asked, “Where should we hold this yard sale?” I recall a couple of people answering simultaneously, “In your front yard, Pat.” So within five months of forming the Play Committee we held our first of five Playful Yard Sales. We had fun and raised money together.
That summer of 2009 we also had our first Picnic, Play and Parade Watch event, we have now had seven July 4 celebrations. Colleen, who is 88 years young and one of the original seven wanted to have an inter-generational picnic, so the July 4 play event met Colleen’s wish.
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Feel free to contact me if you would like to form a play committee. I would be glad to speak with you on the phone, by email or even come to your community.
Since early 2009 the play committee, which evolved into Takoma Plays is now under the umbrella of Let’s Play America. Our website is http://www.Letsplayamerica.org and our mission is to encourage people of all ages to play by helping them create playful events in their OWN communities.
I am confident that those of you that are inspired to form a play committee can do it. Remember everyone deserves to play!