Greenpoint mom Melanie Sawyer is a neighborhood force for education. She’s a dedicated advocate for PS 31, where her child goes to school, tirelessly fundraising and organizing special programming for the institution. But her involvement doesn’t stop there. She has now turned her attention to even younger children. Sawyer recently launched a new neighborhood child-care experiment called PLAYTIME!, a program designed to enable children younger than school-age and their parents to play together in a safe, comfortable environment. On top of that: It’s donation-only, so it won’t break the bank.
“I wanted to start doing this because as a parent myself, I know it’s very difficult throughout the seasons to find services for children without paying a lot of money,” Sawyer said. “This is sorely needed in this neighborhood. There are some fantastic programs for children, but other than the library—and I’m working with a librarian on this—nothing is free or suggested donation. There are so many self-employed people in this neighborhood, it’s better for them to pay what they can afford.”
Playtime is designed as a space that fosters not only bonds between children and their guardians, but also affords young children the opportunity to socialize and learn invaluable social skills at a very young age.
“My aim with PLAYTIME! is to help get kids out of the house and learn how to communicate and interact with children and adults alike in a fun and friendly environment,” she continued.
Sawyer, who works as a professional baby wrangler in the fashion industry, was able to get everything she needs either donated or at a drastically reduced cost, including the space: PLAYTIME! is held at the Greenpoint Reformed Church on Milton Street.
PLAYTIME is in its very beginning stages; In fact, the official launch is on February 14th. However, it’s already getting a tremendous amount of positive feedback from community members. As of now, PLAYTIME! is scheduled be open two days a week, on Mondays and Fridays, from 11:30am-1:30pm, though Sawyer hopes to eventually offer it five days a week and introduce a range of community partners such as WORD bookstore to do story time, and a teacher from PS 31 to come in and educate parents about how to prepare for sending their children to school.
“I’ve been speaking to a lot of parents in the neighborhood, especially dads, and this is tailored towards moms, dads and babysitters. It’s the community working together. I want to make this a community effort so people work together and become proud of what they’ve achieved.”