A New Playground for Passage Community

Posted on October 2nd, 2015

Passage Community, a Simpson-owned building that provides transitional housing for 17 families, received a special gift – a new playground!

The idea came from long-time volunteer Jill King. Her employer, Bright Horizons, offers a Bright Space program to their employees to work with non-profit agencies to create warm, safe, spaces for children to play and experience the joy of childhood.

Jill was first introduced to Simpson by the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children director in 2001. “When we learned about Simpson, we knew the Bright Space program would be a perfect match and that we could help develop child-friendly environments that were educational, safe, and fun for the parents and children to connect.”

Jill has led efforts to help create three child-friendly Bright Spaces for Simpson: two in the program areas of Elliot Park and Passage Community and at the administrative offices. While creating the tutoring and play space at Passage Community, Jill became aware of the dirt lot behind the building and began to wonder how the space could be more functional. “I asked the staff about the idea of creating a playground and learned that the staff had been thinking of how to put in a playground for years,” said Jill.

Jill and the staff’s dream became a reality when the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children called to inform them that one of Bright Horizons’ vendors, Landscape Structures, offered to help fund the playground.

After collaborating on the design with Landscape Structures, Jill, her family, and 36 Bright Horizons employees broke ground and began to assemble the playground in May. Within four days the dirt lot was transformed into a playground. Her favorite memory of the weekend was when two boys who live at Passage offered to help and asked if there could be a bench on the playground so their parents would have a place to sit when they played.

“In that moment, that is in essence what Bright Spaces is about. Having a place in the day for parents and children to connect, remove distractions, and reconnect as a family. That is what I hope the playground will do for the parents and children,” says Jill.

The children at Passage have enjoyed their summer days at the new playground, their parents often happily observing from the bench. “We have over 50 kids at Passage, and now because of the playground we are seeing the kids and families outside more, playing, connecting and building friendships,” says Janelle Leppa, Director of Family Housing Programs.

Simpson Housing Services thanks Jill and Jonathan King, Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, Landscape Structures, and all of the volunteers for creating a bright space for families living at Passage Community.

“Jonathan and I enjoyed helping create a special place for the kids that is outside and connects them to nature. I drive by at least once a week to help maintain it and look forward to seeing how the kids use the playground as the seasons change.” – Jill