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Play on Purpose Spots help local children learn, grow

The Dayton Daily News

By Hope Vuto

What if we could transform our community with fun spaces for young children that encourage their curiosity and promote early learning? What if families in all our neighborhoods had play areas where they could build their young children’s early math, science, language and reading skills? What if these opportunities for play were in the places families go every day, from grocery stores to bus stops to laundromats? All young children, regardless of their race, gender, zip code or socioeconomic status learn best through play, and play doesn’t just happen at a park or playground. Families can turn every day moments into playful ones and use them to spark conversations.

Even though they may not understand everything that we say or explain, children learn from hearing words. Conversation with children promotes connection and healthy brain development. That’s why Montgomery County’s Birth-to-3 Collaborative and Learn to Earn Dayton are creating “Play on Purpose”

— or POP — Spots to encourage learning and play in everyday life.

We’re incredibly excited about a POP Spot coming to the new Gem City Market on Salem Avenue in Northwest Dayton. The outside market plaza will have several on-purpose experiences.

A local artist designed and fabricated a wrought-iron artwork with more than 30 hidden images in the sculpted metal.

There will also be a life-sized Jump Ruler, which children can use to practice measuring and other numeracy skills – and have fun - by seeing how far they can jump. Bold signage will ask questions like: How far can you jump? How many steps does it take to get from one end to the other? Finally, on rainy days, fun pictures will magically appear on the sidewalk, thanks to images created with hydrophobic paint that will only be visible when the pavement is wet.

Just a few blocks away, another POP Spot will be completed early this summer. A 400-square-foot mosaic will be installed at the future Hope Center for Families at 1800 Harvard Blvd.

Learn to Earn Dayton, Omega CDC, Omega Baptist Church and the Mosaic Institute of Dayton are working with community partners to build a playful mosaic titled Together We Rise. Embedded in the mosaic are letter and word games created from tiny, shiny pieces of tile.

While we’re excited about these POP Spots, the Play on Purpose initiative isn’t just about creating new playful learning experiences. We’re also eager to brand and link all the creative POP Spots that already exist throughout Montgomery County.

Watch for new signage to go up at other locations with fun questions and ideas for how families can play and learn together A Play on Purpose planning committee of over 35 organizations has come together with countless community members.

Will you to share your ideas and bring a POP Spot to your business, neighborhood or community space? Visit to learn more.

Hope Vuto is the Birth-to-5 Program Manager for Learn to Earn Dayton.

Fund your “POP” Spot

Apply for a grant and receive technical assistance from early childhood development experts and fabricators. Already have a playful learning experience? Let us help with signage so families know you’re part of Play on Purpose. Learn more at


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