PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – On a recent, cold wintry day young kids got a chance to break loose inside and play with a variety of toys and contraptions with the Columbia Play Project – a mobile non-profit that brings play to various locations in Clark County.
“Parents love it. Parents are so excited to have something good for their kids that doesn’t cost a lot of money and is available to them,” said Jeanne Bennett of the Columbia Play Project.
Bennett has made it her mission to make sure young kids have opportunities to learn through play, after she realized there was a deficit in early learning.
She dreamed up the Columbia Play Project in 2019, with plans to build a brick-and-mortar location. However, those plans stalled when the pandemic hit.
“We had to re-group, and we thought, ‘Well, what can we do immediately?’ And so, we started creating the pop-up parties and taking them to local parks,” Bennett explained.
Thanks to significant donations from the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation, they were able to buy toys and their van.
“Kids learn through playing and that’s why it’s vitally important. Even this young,” Certified Play Expert Mary Sisson said.
For parents during the pandemic, having something like this was especially helpful and important.
“It can be so isolating as a parent, especially if you’re staying at home with your kid. And you just feel alone all the time. And having a place to go play, just like this, would be so helpful,” said mom Maggie Halpin.
The non-profit now has a goal of building a physical location by 2026, and in the meantime, hopes to team up with various organizations in the Vancouver area including parks and recreation departments, churches, synagogues, mosques and other family-oriented groups.