For the average working adult, the saying goes, “More work, less play.” But for Meghan Talarowski, her very job as Founder and Executive Director of Studio Ludo means that play is work.
Studio Ludo (“ludo” in Latin translates to “I play”) is a Philly-based non-profit whose mission is to build better play through research, design, and advocacy. “Our model of work involves a lot of hands-on engagement with kids and families.”
But when the COVID-19 epidemic unfolded and Philadelphia playgrounds and schools closed, many families and children were left without safe ways to play.
“We were thinking, how do we continue to bring play to families, especially those that rely so much on public space?” said Talarowski.
That thinking led to the creation of Play Packs, playful care packages filled with a week’s worth of nature-based activities, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and reading books.
“Play has a way of connecting us to each other again and brings a lighthearted moment to an otherwise awful situation,” said Talarowski. “[The Play Packs] hit a lot of buttons. It felt like it was really an important thing to do for our community that we are so disconnected from right now.”
Studio Ludo received more than $4,000 in donations through crowdfunding, as well as support from Fairmount Park Conservancy, Staples, and Treehouse Books to create the Play Packs. With the support, they were able to create and distribute 1,200 Play Packs in one week at food distribution centers, churches, and community centers throughout Philly.
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First round of Play Packs were distributed yesterday at the Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia @thevillagephilly !!! 550 more will be distributed today throughout Philly!!! Thank you to everyone who has made this project possible!!! For activities, more information, or to donate a Play Pack please visit StudioLudo.org/PlayPacks ????
The plan, Talarowski says, is to distribute another round of free Play Packs on April 24 and each week through the remainder of the school year. “The goal is to continue to support families this way as long as we receive material and financial donations.” These are the planned distribution locations:
In the meantime, the Play Pack activities are available to download for your own community. Click here to download.
Says Talarowski, “People have some time on their hands and are realizing that they can use their local neighborhood to ways of still connecting with nature. I hope that providing some small things like the Play Packs offers those who are struggling something to do to make your day a little brighter.”
To support the Play Packs, visit Studio Ludo’s website.
To learn more about the creative ways public space advocates around the country are engaging with their communities during the pandemic, read: “During the Pandemic, Public Space Advocates Pivot” by Reimagining the Civic Commons.