Here in the small state of Rhode Island, there are many places for our kids to go and play. While I love knowing that there is usually something going on, sometimes the cost is a deterrent. We pay a membership fee at the YMCA, and we go there as often as we can, but I like to change it up. Paying $4+ dollars for a day isn’t much at the time, but at just 6 times a month, it’s almost $300 a year! The cold months are hard to enjoy while waiting on Spring and Summer, when Addie and I will enjoy parks and the zoo like we did last year. With all this snow on the ground, I have been getting bummed out about not being able to afford a place to go. Then, I heard about the opening of West Side Play Space, near the apartment Dave and I used to share in the West End in Providence. The opening weekend was free, so we went to check it out. Armed with our coffee cups (that we could keep with us), and stocking feet (they have slippers there if you want to wear something), we stepped into the looming building and out of the cold.
We took a tour of the space, situated on the first floor at the historic West Broadway Elementary School, 29 Bainbridge Ave in Providence. West Side Play Space is a program of the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, which [year round] does such hard work preserving the historic the West End, while giving it charm and updates. When Dave and I lived in that part of Providence, we LOVED it!
The space is clean and all the toys are donated, but in pristine condition. There is a nice set-up for younger, less mobile kids like Addie in the corner, a room for imagination (with a reading space, kitchen and car mat) as well as a small bounce house and riding toys for the older kids. There is a HUGE chalkboard to play, and mom and dad don’t have to climb in and out of anything to keep an eye on their babies! It’s such an open, inviting space. I ran into a friend of mine while we were there, and her older daughter loved playing. Other friends of ours enjoyed the time out of the house in a new environment, even if the toys were similar to what their son has at home.
Addie loved playing with her Daddy:
It was really nice to just let her play, too… she was so enamored with all the other children:
While we were there, we learned that the space for younger kids was still being designed, and they hoped to have a bigger place for them. I also hope that they have a way to cordon it off, as there was some older kid bullying (taking toys from the babies) and riding a small bike onto the mat… but all-in-all, we had a truly wonderful experience.
This is a great space for locals, but I was glad I didn’t have to be a resident to join. WSPS is a co-operative, thus keeping costs down. For this season, they are planning on being open until May 2013, at a cost of $40 for the season. There are limited subsidized memberships, too, as WSPS is a firm believer in no family being turned away due to lack of funds. As a member, each family is responsible for one volunteer shift a month (there is a brief orientation prior to your first shift)- not available to waiver, BUT you can have your child with you and they’re only 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If you want to check out the space, try one of these options: daily drop-ins are $10 (note: this is NOT a space where you can leave your child)- this fee can be credited towards a full membership. There is also Free Open Play Day on the first Saturday of every month!