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What do you get when you combine boxes, balls, blocks of wood and some youth?

. . . unplanned and creative play emerges!!

The carpet at the YFC youth centre had just been replaced in the main room and all the games and equipment were stored in another room while it was being installed. We were about to have over 30 youth come to the centre for the After School Program and all that was in the common room were a few boxes, some blocks of wood and a couple of balls. The staff had determined a game plan for the night’s program and were hopeful that the empty room wouldn’t be a disappointment. What happened next was not expected.

As the youth entered the building, they loved the wide open space. They were running, dancing and tumbling on the new carpet. “Can we keep it this way?” “I love all the space!” were just a few of the comments we heard.

Then a boy saw the boxes and blocks of wood and began to build what looked like a tower/obstacle course. We weren’t sure what exactly he was doing until he yelled “Who wants to play ‘Angry Birds’?” (this is normally a video game found on iPhones and iPads). The group rallied around him, rules were created and recreated by the young people as they played. In no time at all, unplanned and creative play emerged. Laughter, competitive challenges and shouts of victory filled the space.

In today’s youth culture, this type of play is not a regular experience. Social media, video games and peer pressure are common barriers for youth to use their creativity and simply play. However in a safe environment, where they are loved and encouraged to be who they are, youth get to be kids again. More than just developing their creative and troubleshooting like skills, the young people get to experience the simplicity and joy of having fun!

Thank you for empowering hope and potential in these young lives through your financial partnership!

PS: As a follow-up to this story, we have kept this room more open for youth and each day we setup areas that allow for creative activity/play.  We love seeing youth just be who they really are!

Post Author: James Coolidge