The Center for Children and Families: Play with Me
"Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn."- O. Fred Donaldson
What is Play with Me?
Play with Me is a community outreach program which began in 2011. It is run by UT Dallas' Center for Children and Families (CCF) and is designed for children ages 0-3 years. The semi-structured activity play lessons aim to foster strong parent-child relationships, socio-emotional, physical, language and cognitive development. Through a variety of activities, children enhance skills such as gross motor, sensory motor, communication, self-regulation, and more! Parents are taught the tools to help strengthen the foundation for their children's learning and healthy development while also promoting school readiness and subsequent academic success. In this informal environment, bilingual developmental specialists share information and facilitate play and learning activities using toys, music, and movement to promote sensitive, stimulating, parent-child interactions.
Who does Play with Me Serve?
Play with Me primarily serves high-need Spanish and English speaking families. Currently, more than 500 children and their parents take part in this free program each year. Because of the communities' needs and the program's success, Play with Me now serves 5 community sites: Bachman Lake, Vickery Meadow, Pleasant Grove, Richardson and Plano.
How can YOU make an impact?
Because this program helps high-need families, we have been fortunate to offer this program free to these families. As students in the program, we are asking for your help in keeping this program thriving for the more than 500 families that are impacted each year. With the funds raised through this project, we will be replacing broken toys, buying supplies, and providing self-care items for mothers. Our goal is to continue strengthening our impact on these communities through the Play with Me program.
"My name is Margarita, but everyone calls me Maggie. I want to share my experience in Play with Me. The program has helped me have a better relationship with my daughter. I didn't have patience, and I was a person who didn't tolerate children. I only wanted to see them from a distance. With difficulty, I took care of my daughter, and I loved my nephew, Joseph, but in those days, I was a very cold aunt. It hurts to recognize that I was, but it was my reality. I brought my daughter and nephew to Play with Me. I used to say that I wanted them to come so that they could learn how to play. The one who really learned how to play was me. Now, I enjoy playing with them and spending time with them. I feel like a little girl. I believe this program even helped heal my inner child. I share with others to say that we should take advantage of our time with our children and see that it is super healthy to give our time to them. They will grow healthier developing all of their skills. I am very grateful." - Maggie, parent
"I witnessed parents step out of their comfort zone just as much as I witnessed little ones coming out of their shells. It felt like a win, whenever a mom would voice how she is normally shy and yet felt comfortable enough to take part in a group conversation on whatever the topic was that week." - Marcela Salazar, UTD student
"Being a part of this program has shown me how great it is to witness these families grow together. As the weeks go on, I’ve seen the families getting comfortable and learning from one another." - Jasmine Amezcua, UTD student
"It’s amazing what you hear from parents on the first week of the program about how they didn’t have knowledge of certain topics compared to the last week. Parents gain such a wonderful learning experience." - Nancy Elizabeth Jaramillo, UTD student