Healing Through Play

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Over 200 volunteers, tons of materials and tools, and a few hours of hard work, ends with a custom playground.

Playground with Meaning

But it represents so much more than just a day of play at Family Shelter Service of Metropolitan Family Services DuPage, which provides counseling and support for victims of domestic violence.

“The playground space is not just a playground; it’s not just a place for the kids to get their energy out. But it also provides a space for counseling, for children’s counseling,” said Lisa Horn, the program director of domestic violence in DuPage County. “And this outside play space just creates a space where they play with their counselor and that’s the way that relationships and trust are built.”

How it Happened

It was all made possible by a grant from KaBoom! – a national playground building nonprofit, along with funds raised by the shelter and a partnership with Discover Financial Services.

“At Discover, volunteerism is one of our core values,” said Discover CEO Roger Hochschild. “It’s a chance to give back to the community so I can be here working hard with my colleagues in the sun for a great cause.”

“It’s just amazing that you start with just a pit of mud basically and by the end of the day you have a playground – living, breathing playground for everyone to play on,” said Tameka Haugen, a Discover volunteer.

Play Space Features

The playground includes swings, slides, and areas for kids of all ages to enjoy, tailor-made from the input of those who’ll use it.

“The children and the families had a part in kind of the design and the planning for this playground. And that’s critical because they had a certain amount of ownership and it makes sure that the elements of the playground meet the needs of children,” said CEO of Metropolitan Family Services Ric Estrada.

Healing Through Play

It’s a space that can provide healing through play for the 2,000 clients the shelter sees every year.

“You understand that there’s physical benefits but play is also how kids develop their creative side and it’s so important to mental and emotional health as well,” said CEO of KaBoom! James Siegal. “Because play is the fundamental part of childhood, it’s how kids understand that they’re loved and they’re protected.”

A community coming together to build support for those who need it most.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.