The COVID-19 pandemic has hit children with disabilities and their families extraordinarily hard. Our families are not receiving the education, socialization and therapy support they need to thrive. The PlayGarden’s revenue is down over 30% but we are committed to serving our families, through preschool, open play and summer camp. The added safety precautions required are costly.
Every year for the last fifteen years, the PlayGarden has been able to provide life-changing inclusive programming families of children with and without disabilities in our community. We have watched young children grow up from little four year old preschoolers to eighteen year old camp counselors. We have watched as some of our PlayGardener’s have gone into the workforce as therapists, teachers, program directors and even rocket scientists.
“My sister and I started coming to the PlayGarden when we were eight-years-old and we had a great time going there.”
“One of the things I liked about the PlayGarden was meeting people and playing with them who understood my side of life.”
I have spent 14 years at the PlayGarden!
Little Jack harvested from our first vegetable and flower garden in 2005. Now, he loves water play at Teen Camp.
Leiney started coming to Camp when she was just 4 years old with her Mother, our first Camp Director, Jenny and her little sister Abby as 1.5 years old! Leiney came to the PlayGarden every summer until she was old enough to work. She is now one of our all-star camp counselors!
Therese has been part of the PlayGarden from the very beginning. She started coming to camp at the when she was three and is now eighteen years old! She loves to garden, cook, play music, wear musical bracelets, play in sensory bins, do art and laugh with her friends and sister, Josie.
Therese’s sister Josie came to camp when she was younger as well and then became a summer camp counselor.
Therese now helps take care of our flock of chickens, ducks and PlayGarden rabbits.
Siblings Violet and Conor have been coming together to the PlayGarden since they were young. Listen to their story.
As a toddler, Samantha explored every inch of the PlayGarden. She helped the construction workers build the Garden House, planted our first vegetable gardens, and sang in our PlayGarden Choir. She took care of the animals and grew a special bond with our chicken Skip. As Samantha got older, she became a Junior Counselor and has been able to share what she has learned about inclusion with other campers. She is well on her way to becoming a full-fledged Camp Counselor.
At nearly 17, Samantha is a strong disability rights advocate and leader in our community.We have Samantha to thank for helping to secure the PlayGarden’s lease renewal with the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation!
Meet longtime PlayGarden camper, Julian! He knows EVERY kind of airplane out there, is one of the best readers we have met, is a fantastic singer and tells the best jokes!
“The PlayGarden has given me a job, which has impacted my life so much. Because, it’s really hard to get a job when you have a disability. Being able to work here, now I can build up my resume up for getting a future job. Going from a camper to a counselor made me really nervous. Like, what if I can’t help this camper or what if something happens? But, all the staff here makes me feel really supported. I don’t feel bad asking for help. They are always willing to help me.”
“Growing up with Autism I had a hard time socializing and I didn’t have many friends. The PlayGarden taught me many things: How to handle chickens, an appreciation for the outdoors. but most importantly, it taught me how to play with children my own age. Now I am a grad student and I have plenty of friends.”
Growing Up PlayGarden
Your gift of any size ensures that we can offer in-person and virtual inclusive programing for children and their families during these challenging times. You can also make your donation by check. Please mail checks to the PlayGarden at 1745 24th Ave S Seattle, WA 98144. As a 501 c(3) organization, all donations to the PlayGarden are tax deductible as allowable by law. Our Tax ID number #06-1652679.