Play Is a Human Right! LaFleur Helps Children’s Healing Center and H.U.G.S. Ranch Advance Their Missions
Written by Leigh Ebrom
At LaFleur, we believe that every child deserves time to play, create, explore, and find peace. We’re not alone; the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights considers play a fundamental right of every child. That’s because unstructured, child-driven play strengthens children’s cognitive, social, and executive skills in ways that other activities can’t.
In May and June of 2019, we helped two organizations that recognize children’s needs and work to foster healing through play.
H.U.G.S. Ranch: Finding Peace Through Equestrian Therapy
Founded in 2007, H.U.G.S. Ranch provides a faith-based environment where children who have suffered trauma or have special needs can find peace and heal. At the ranch, children have opportunities to build trust and confidence through equestrian activities and mentoring. Children can participate in either one-on-one or group sessions throughout the summer and fall.
Because many of the ranch’s horses are rescued, the children often bond with the animals in profound and lasting ways. For example, a nervous child may empathize with a skittish pony, build a relationship, and discover untapped strength and confidence.
To help H.U.G.S. Ranch prepare for its season, the LaFleur team cleaned barns and feed buckets, spread mulch, and stained countless wooden boxes for children’s craft projects. We also had a chance to explore the 12-acre ranch, meet the animals, and learn more about the organization’s mission.
Children’s Healing Center: A Safe Play Space for Immune-Compromised Kids
Medically vulnerable children often lack opportunities to play and socialize. As a result, they sometimes feel isolated and risk falling behind in the essential skills that develop through free play.
Since 2015, the Children’s Healing Center has worked to fill this gap in West Michigan, giving kids and young adults with weakened immune systems a clean and safe area to play, relax, explore, and socialize. The center also serves as a vital emotional support system for parents of children with complex medical needs.
The organization’s innovative facility offers 7,000 square feet of space for children, including spaces for physical activity, technology, creativity, and learning. These spaces are as germ-free as possible thanks to cleanable surfaces, a hospital-grade air filtration system, rigorous cleaning standards, and state-of-the-art technology.
During our time at the Children’s Healing Center, LaFleur helped improve the facility’s outdoor areas. Our long list of tasks included:
- Sanding and refinishing picnic tables
- Hanging sunshades over children’s play areas
- Moving playground equipment
- Reworking and weeding the center’s garden beds
- Painting a playhouse
We also toured this remarkable center, learned about its mission, and celebrated the resilience of the children who find respite and joy in its walls.
Volunteering Builds Stronger Teams
Our time at the Children’s Healing Center and H.U.G.S. Ranch was part of LaFleur’s comprehensive volunteering and community engagement program. We believe that giving back to our community is essential to our mission and builds bonds between our team members.
Research confirms our hunch. In 2017, Deloitte surveyed 1,000 U.S. workers about their outlook on workplace volunteerism. The results were eye-opening:
- 89% said companies that sponsor or encourage volunteering offer a better workplace environment.
- 77% reported that employer-sponsored volunteering is essential to their workplace wellbeing.
- 74% said employment-based volunteering improves their sense of purpose.
- 70% said volunteering opportunities are better than workplace happy hours for improving morale.
Our teams and communities deserve better. That’s why LaFleur’s team spends time each month volunteering. Our team members select the nonprofit organizations, which helps us understand both our community’s needs and our colleagues’ diverse passions.
LaFleur Works to Build Better Teams and Relationships Together
If you’d like to learn more about our innovative approach to employer-sponsored volunteering or our client-focused marketing services, contact LaFleur today. We love to meet companies and organizations who share our passion for high-quality work, both in our communities and offices. To reach us, call 888-222-1512 or fill out our brief online contact form.
Deloitte. (2017, June). 2017 Deloitte volunteerism survey. New York, NY: Deloitte. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/citizenship-deloitte-volunteer-impact-research.html?nc=1
Ginsburg, K. (2007, January). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent bonds. Pediatrics, 119(1), 182-191. Retrieved from https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182