Our group has five members—and two of us are student-parents. We understand all too well how the community does and does not support families. One of the most precious resources to any busy student is TIME, and that resource becomes even more precious when you’re juggling parenting with schoolwork. It becomes especially important to contentious parents that the QUALITY of the time that we spend with our children is higher when we are able to spend a smaller QUANTITY of time with them. It can be hard figuring out a way to spend that quality time with your kids that is entertaining for everyone.
Everyone in our group remembered the “Family Game Night” campaign launched by toymaker Hasbro in the late 1990s. That campaign clearly made an impression on all of us, because when we were brainstorming how we could reach out to the community and possibly help families to improve the quality of the time they’re spending together, the idea of somehow hosting or encouraging a Family Game Night immediately came up. The challenge lay in how to go about implementing our plan in a way that would have a maximal impact on the community, in the short amount of time allowed to us by the constraints of the term and course. One point that came up in our discussions was how expensive it can be, to build a household library of board games that are age-appropriate and fun for the whole family– this is where our groups idea came about, let’s give kids and families games.
Happily, we were able to collaborate with PSU’s Resource Center for Students with Children (the RCSC) at their Harvest Feast on November 19th. In the weeks leading up to the event, we gathered as many board games as we could. This was accomplished via donations from our local neighborhood communities, our own closets and attics, and supplemented by inexpensive games purchased at thrift and dollar stores. Between the five of us, we were able to gather 26 games—a significant amount, especially since the RCSC estimated that there would be around 30 adults and a similar number of children at the event.
In addition to gathering games (that we planned to give away via a lottery drawing to anyone who came to our table) we put together an informational flyer that had information on the social and psychological benefits of spending time together with your kids—and what the benefits were to CHILDREN who played board games.
The Harvest Feast was a resounding success. The RCSC had arranged the event as a potluck— they provided the main entrees and the attendees brought side dishes or a dessert to share with everyone. There was a professional photographer available to take family portraits, a craft center where the children could make frames for the portrait that had just been taken, and a librarian from the Multnomah County Library was on-site to host a festive story-time for all the kids.
According to Pamela Bock, the staff member of the RCSC that we coordinated our participation in the event with, there were 40 adults and 41 children in attendance at the event. We were pleased to be able to ensure that every family in attendance went home with at least one game, and families with several children typically went home with 2 or 3 games total. It’s our hope that each family will use these games to enjoy more time together in the future!
These kind of events take planning, resources, and volunteers like ourselves to pull off. Portland State’s RCSC does an outstanding job supporting families, and it was an honor to be a part of the work that they do, and share in family time with fellow students.