Kaleidoscope Places

The Salvation Army

Background

The Barbara L. Goodmon Family Emergency Shelter at The Salvation Army of Wake County assists homeless families and those fleeing domestic violence. In addition to providing basic necessities, they offer individual case management, parenting workshops and tutoring opportunities for children.

The Project at a Glance

1. Improve the lobby

2. Renovate playrooms and other areas families spend time

3. Provide distractions for children during case management

Partners

• The Salvation Army

• The Kaleidoscope Project

• BB&T

The Project

The primary goal of the partnership with The Kaleidoscope Project for The Salvation was to nurture children’s mental, social and emotional health by:

• Create a more welcoming lobby area that provided activities for the children that were waiting with their families to be helped.

• Better utilize the existing playrooms by rearranging the existing spaces and enriching the activities for children with a focus on providing age appropriate quiet and active areas.

The Salvation Army was concerned about the natural chaos in the lobby when several families were waiting to be helped. The families, under stress already, were trying to keep the children happy during the wait, however with nothing available to occupy them, it tended to get loud and even more stressful. Relocating an existing wooden “bus” and adding a large playhouse and some wall mounted toys helps children stay calm and interested in something during wait times.

Disorganized playrooms filled with donated toys were spacious but lacking in purposeful activities. The rearrangement of the space was a good start. Adding activities for specific age groups, making sure there were enough materials for several kids to play at a time, creating a reading space and adding another large playhouse filled with cushions worked together to make an appealing space for the children sheltering at The Salvation Army.

Best Practices

Build Positive Relationships

The playroom presented a great opportunity to provide a space for families with children to play and enjoy time together. The room was designed to accommodate multiple children and adults within each area, allowing for more opportunities for joint play and relationship building. The room was rearranged to better position adult seating to allow parents to have a better line of sight within the entire space. Features reflecting a “children’s design sense”, such as an indoor playground, were added to the room. Cozy spaces were added in each of the main playroom spaces to provide a quiet, soft space for children and caregivers to engage in reflective and relaxing activities. These spaces included soft rugs, cushions and child size furniture. Positive and affirming messages were added to the walls in the cozy spaces.

In the lobby, a playhouse was added to provide a place for children to play. Soft cushions were added for seating, so that children could also sit inside for quieter, more reflective activities.

Create Diverse Spaces and Activities

Smaller sections were created within the playrooms. These sections included different types of activities including creative play and restorative play. Each section included a variety of fixed parts and loose parts for creative play. Some of the loose parts included large Lego blocks, loose trains with fixed tracks, and play food for the child size wooden kitchen. Wheeled toys were added to the rooms, such as a grocery cart and walking assistance toys for toddlers.

A children’s art center was added to the main gathering space to provide a place for children to express themselves artistically. Wire and clips were hung on the walls to provide a place to hang the children’s artwork.

Fixed play panels were added to the wall of the case manager hallway to provide playful activities for the children during intake. Each case manager was also given a play kit to distract children during case management meetings.

A fixed play panel was also added to the wall in the lobby, providing children with different playful activities to engage in while waiting.

Foster Safety and Support

Signage was added to the restroom in the playroom. Parents were unaware of the restroom prior to the signage as nothing on the door indicated it was a public restroom.

A soft rubber floor, like the floor in a gym, was added to the children’s space within the lobby, providing the children with soft flooring in the event of a fall and to sit on for floor activities.

Enhance Accessibility and Inclusion

In the lobby, the rubber floor creates a zone, making it easier for children and adults with sensory impairments to navigate the space. Multiple entry points exist into the playhouse, making it easier for children to engage with it. The play panel on the wall was set at a height easily accessible by small children and children using mobility apparatus.