The Power of Play

"I have had the tremendous opportunity to travel to Haiti with a team of health care professionals to provide continuing education seminars to health care agents in ICC’s Community Inclusion Program at Grace Children’s Hospital.  It has been a privilege to meet the dedicated women and men involved in this program and to see how much they desire to assist the families that they work with.  Nothing in Haiti is easy, and yet these health care agents came to our seminar each day, eager and ready to learn new ideas and techniques.  One of the topics of the week involved sharing the importance of play.  When you are struggling with a child with a disability, or trying to ensure that your family is well cared for, it can seem that there is little time for play.  We shared information about how play impacts a child’s development, can help mothers to bond with their child, and different types of play. We shared some of the ways in which they could incorporate play into their days, and teach different activities to the families that they worked with.

 The fun really began when we taught the women some of our favorite songs and games that we enjoy playing with our children, and then they shared some of their favorite songs and dances with our team.  After our first day of making origami frogs that would jump, and teaching object permanence through peek-a-boo, the women began to ask each day when we were going to have our time to play.  It was remarkable to see these initially reserved women, laugh, dance, cheer, volunteer one another, and compete together in everything from spoon races to hula hoop games.  When we were playing games, the women were teammates all working towards a common goal.  In those moments, our differences didn’t matter; it was about connecting with one another, and experiencing moments of joy."

Anne Mullins, social worker

Epworth United Methodist Church