Planet Play and Amethyst Place, two Kansas City-based nonprofits, are excited to announce a new partnership that will benefit child development in Midtown Kansas City for years to come. Planet Play is an educational project started a decade ago to celebrate the power of play. Through mobile programs across the Kansas City metro and a brick-and-mortar site at 55th and Troost, Planet Play was able to reach nearly 6,200 children and adults. Seventy percent of those play dates were offered in communities of need.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 impacted Planet Play’s ability to continue its services. Yet, in the wake of its closure, Planet Play realized it could make an even deeper impact by giving its creative play materials to a partner that could offer an ecosystem of family services. That fortunate recipient is Amethyst Place, a long-term supportive housing program at 28th and Troost for women and children recovering from substance use, trauma, and poverty.
“Although we are saddened by the closure of our long-time partner, we are grateful they have entrusted us to carry on their important work,” says Starla Brennan, executive director of Amethyst Place. “We’re home to over 100 children each year, with half under age five. Inheriting these creative play materials brings so much joy and healing to our community.”
As part of Amethyst Place, Planet Play will continue to help children use play experiences that research shows help to build resilience and the social, emotional, and problem-solving skills needed for healthy childhood development. Planet Play experiences are designed to put children in charge, not the adults or the equipment. The creative play format is aided by adult “funstigators” who enable the child’s own imagination to run wild. The approach also seeks to help caregivers observe how to extend the unstructured play experience into the child’s everyday life.
“I believe the world needs more creativity, curiosity, and joy,” says Lauranne Hess, founder and executive director of Planet Play. “We have served the needs of the community well, but we recognize it’s time to expand to a space where families can receive the strong wrap-around services that Amethyst Place can provide.”
Lauren Allen, board chairman of Planet Play, says, “I believe in the power of unstructured play, which is what first drew me to Planet Play as a mother. I am saddened that the doors of Planet Play have shut, but I am pleased that those same doors have led to this new opportunity with Amethyst Place. Children and families will continue to benefit from the freedom and power of play.”
The partnership was officially unveiled on May 7, 2022, when Amethyst Place hosted its annual Mother’s Day Brunch for residents. During the event, Planet Play creative play materials were available for child exploration in Amethyst Place’s courtyard, a popular gathering space for families. Planet Play staff and board members were present to witness the new chapter of their program in action.
See the video from the Mother’s Day Brunch, commemorating the official handoff of Planet Play to Amethyst Place.