Play for Change Grant

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The Play for Change Grant, launched on Oct 30th 2018, invited the attendees of the Play for Change Unconference to brainstorm ideas or events about collaborative, playful, uplifting and accessible play for their communities, and apply for up to $7,500 in funding to support these playful concepts .

Check out the 8 grantees and their Big Ideas for the Play for Change grant below. We hope that these new projects will inspire communities and bring joy to people through play!

Stay tuned in the coming months for updates on projects here as well as on Facebook and Twitter.



SKWIM League


Community Served: City of Pittsburgh

SKWIM is open to anyone regardless of age and swimming ability. The game of SKWIM provides a new, aquatic advantage in team sports by combining the best elements from games like soccer, ultimate and hockey, into an all new water-disk game adaptable to a variety of water venues and age groups. The Play for Change Grant will encourage playful intergenerational play at public pools, and allow expansion to 15 city pools. An Aquatic Jamboree, a two-hour event will be hosted at community pools and accessible to anyone throughout the swimming season.

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Bruin’s Play Den

Brooke Primary South

Community: Wellsburg, WV

The Play for Change Grant will allow for expansion of the existing playground at Brooke Primary South. Addition of the Imagination Playground, permanent hopscotch and giant board games placement on the asphalt, additional seating and more. This expansion will incorporate multiple forms of play, including dramatic play, creative play, game play, etc. Various community partners, including high school students, would be engaged in the playground upgrade process. In addition, the playground will be used to host community oriented “open play” events throughout the year.


Arts and Play the Autism Way

Arts Excursions Unlimited (AEU) and Autism Urban Connections Inc.

Community: Greater Hazelwood and Pittsburgh Region

This is a collaboration between Arts Excursions Unlimited and Autism Urban Connections Inc. to expand the conversation of play equity and access for persons on the autism spectrum. We will work towards a more just “playing field” through direct interaction with and evaluation of play-centric sites in the Pittsburgh region. Greater Hazelwood youth and adults will conduct research by visiting and engaging in a wide variety of play experiences and locations. Play sites will be evaluated on criteria developed by the participating families and shared with the public.


Purposeful Play Prop Boxes

Pittsburgh Public Schools Early Childhood Program

Community: East Liberty (Peabody Early Childhood Center)

The Play for Change grant will allow for creation of play prop boxes for each unit of the current Big Day for Pre-K curriculum by the coaching team at Peabody. The prop boxes are intended to spark imagination and promote role-play and exploration in the areas of: Ready for School, Baby Care, Post Office, Beauty Salon, Ice Cream Shop, Castle Play, Birthday Party, Veterinary Office, Camping and Vacation Awaits You. The boxes will be used in each of the 5 classrooms at Peabody Early Childhood Center throughout the school year to help children increase their social emotional awareness, build self-esteem and self-confidence and increase knowledge about places in their community.


Natural Sensory Garden

Steenrod Elementary School

Community: Wheeling, WV

The Play for Change grant will help with expansion and complementing the existing outdoor garden at Steenrod Elementary School by creating a sensory-rich environment. This expansion may include an embankment slide, a balance bridge, and a climbing structure or cave to allow climbing, jumping, balancing, and crawling. The specific goals are to build upon the concepts of balance and the vestibular system and to engage all of the senses.


Expression Swings for Everyone!

South Fayette Township

Community: South Fayette Township

Dual person expression swings accommodate a variety of ages and abilities and enhance inclusion at playgrounds. The Play for Change grant will allow for the purchase and installation of a GameTime Expression Swing (for toddlers ages 2 - 4 to play face-to-face with a parent or caregiver and to encouraging emotional bonding), as well as a GameTime Expression Swing Universal that includes an adaptive swing seat for children ages 5 - 12 to sit face-to-face with a parent or caregiver. The swings will be installed at a community playground that is a close distance from the local baseball and softball field, as well as the local library. The equipment will be available to more than 3,200 children living in South Fayette Township, as well as neighboring communities.

read about the ribbon cutting for the south fayette team’s expression swings.


Yeshiva Schools Community Garden

Yeshiva Schools Pittsburgh

Community: Pittsburgh Jewish Community/Squirrel Hill

The Play for Change grant will be used to transform an empty lot next to the Yeshiva School Early Learning Center in Squirrel Hill into a community garden. This expansion will transform the outdoor play area as a natural playscape, while also serving as a community garden that welcomes community members and students alike. A partnership with the Alumot Jewish farm curriculum is helping with educating users on the building of a farm/garden. As a Jewish institution, community is a core value and this space will allow for a more welcoming space for community members to interact with our students.


Topper Play Trail

West Liberty University (WLU)

Community: West Liberty, WV and surrounding communities and schools

The West Liberty University Play Team will utilize the Play for Change grant to create the Topper Play Trail. This trail will integrate existing indoor and outdoor activities on the WLU campus with new resources including painted elements, outdoor big play elements, and Everblocks. Currently, activities are offered through a collaborative effort from on-campus entities, including students and staff. The trail will be used on an on-going basis as well as for special events. Some elements would be semi-permanent and moveable while others would be permanent. All activities will be connected throughout the campus with signs, both permanent and an easy up-to-date map, as well as potential development of an app for users.