WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- In this complicated landscape of homelessness and heartache, the children left to navigate a world of uncertainty need a place to escape and just be kids.
And, that's what the playground at the DC General shelter will do for them someday. But for now, they find their happy place indoors.
"What do you like to build?" asks WUSA 9 anchor and consumer correspondent Lesli Foster.
"I like rules because there's so much to learn," says Jayquan.
Former hospital rooms transformed by the Homeless Children's Playtime Project give Jayquan and his friends a release from their stressful little lives.
"They've experienced at least one trauma in their life and that trauma is becoming homeless," says Homeless Children's Playtime Project site manager Heather Wade.
The clanging of chimes signals its time to go over the rules for their play time. We can't show all of the children's faces, but this bunch of kids gather to play with a purpose.
Once the rules are set, the learning takes off.
Wade says, "It seems like we're just twisting up a paper bag, but what children are doing is practicing fine motor skills and gross motor skills. And, gluing is a big thing to do for a four year old. There's a child over here to my right, who is pretending that she's making food and she's a chef. And, what she's doing in that situation is really engaging in some complex symbolic thinking."
Until the Playtime Project was set up here at DC General, there were no services or programs here for children. No squeals of joy, no bright spot in a dark place. Children learn through play. It's how they grow. It's how they develop, and your contribution can help them continue to do that."
The kids at the DC General shelter thrive thanks to the weekly support from the Homeless Children's Playtime Project. And, when they are finally about to explore even more on the outside, there's no limit to what they could become.
Even little Najayda says, "When I grow up, I get to do this with other people," because she wants to be a journalist.
One day, each of the children will have their own play space, in their own home. But, until then, they need YOUR help and your money, now.
You can make a donation to the cause, just click here: https://donatenow.networkforgood.or/playtimeproject, enter the donation amount and select the "WUSA9 Giving Campaign and Playground" option.
Or you can text the word "Playtime" to 25543 to make a donation, too.