What I enjoy most about spending a weekend afternoon in my office in Ruston is that it offers a great view of the large play field in the center of our campus. I like that the front doors of our children’s houses open to a view of the field.

The field is green and large enough for several games to be played at once. Softball or kickball on the diamond, volleyball or touch football in the middle of the field, and in the wetter areas, boys dig with their hands for crawfish.

Trees around the edge of the field shade some benches and picnic tables. It’s a great place to play. The curved private drive around the field is used for scooters, skateboards and bicycles.

I came in this afternoon to catch up after being in southeast Louisiana this week. But watching all the activity in the play field is too great a distraction. Here’s why: our kids are playing!

You want to say, “Well, of course, the kids are playing, Rick! That’s what kids do.”

I’ll counter with, “Not all kids play.”

Play comes easy if life has been good. Children who have experienced violence forget how to play.

Play is fun if you’re with friends. Children who have been rejected fear relationships.

Play is a hoot when the screams and squeals are about delight. Screams mean something else to children who have been beaten.

Play is risky business for our children. They know they may strike out and they fear the sting of teasing laughter. Bless them, they learn to play anyway.

I absolutely love our play field! I love that children who have come to the Home scared of life and love learn to play and enjoy themselves.

Here’s how it happens: our staff are skilled at creating environments in which children feel safe, feel accepted and feel comfortable with the risk of striking out, missing the ball, falling or failing. Play provides opportunities to learn social skills, build relationships, and gain strength and physical skill which improves self esteem.

In summary, play is incredibly important stuff. I am reminded of it each time I look out over the play field and see the games!

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