The Ludoteca Merced, located in Valparaiso, Chile, is a place where children go every day to participate in supervised play complemented with workshops such as cooking, music, and more. These children live in vulnerable situations that are affected by poverty, violence, problems in their life context and spending time on the streets. Our program creates a space where children know that they are cared for and loved, giving them life skills and values which they need for life.
We work with vulnerable children who live in violent conditions, with a lack of safe spaces for childhood and play. There is also a deficit of 6,000 hours of play in Chilean children lives (40% of the playtime they need) limiting their possibilities of learning and recreation, generating exclusion, without good and healthy cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, limiting their opportunities in their adult life, social insertion accentuates poverty and violent environment.
The Ludoteca offers a preventive system instead of a conventional corrective system, distancing children from the dangers of the streets and unsafe situations in their daily lives. Before they could run into potential risk behaviors, the project gives the children a place of love designed for them by replacing their time close to risk situations for a time of healthy play, educational and fun activities with volunteers and professionals to support them.
The project impacts more than 50 different kids a year, giving them skills for their lifetime, helping children to develop social skills for healthy relationships, promoting their success at school, decreasing violent behavior. Also, the project benefits the neighborhood where it is placed, which was a dangerous place, now it's a safe and friendly meeting point. We believe children should be happy, with high self-esteem, have more hours of play in a space built especially for them.