WASHINGTON (WJLA) - A program called the Homeless Children's Playtime Project helps more than 700 children in the District every year. Staff members and 400 volunteers visit homeless shelters every week to give the kids living there a chance to forget about their situation for a few hours and simply play.
"Homelessness causes a lot of stress and stress causes a lot of negative effects in the body that affect the way kids learn and how they experience emotions," says Danielle Rothman, D.C. General site manager.
But one night a week, the kids leave their stress behind by coming to Playtime Project to dress up, let loose, and have fun.
"We get to do art projects and basketball and football and yoga," says Saran Diop, 7.
"We wanted to create a place where they can run around, be active, because that's so important for kids," says Rothman.
Every year, the program helps about 700 children living at five D.C. shelters. It's funded by private donations and grants and provides the kids with snacks, clothing, and school supplies.
This week, the kids are celebrating Dr. King's message of freedom and equality with a parade through the shelter.
"I'm working on a sign for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day," says Bintou Diop, 7.
For two hours, the kids are given time to dream and ignite their creativity and imaginations through play.
Playtime Project leaders say the program is especially important at D.C. General, where there isn't a safe place for the children to play outside. They would like to see that change and hope plans to build a playground on-site will be approved.