Vamos Juguemos

“[My kid] really likes to do activities like painting and playing in the field. [however] I don’t have much time to enjoy with him because of school and therapy, and at night I work and [I] don’t spend time with him… the day we came to paint was the best day for me. I loved painting, and I had forgotten that. [That] day, I remembered it again. I loved spending time with him, it changed my life, and it filled me with peace. I feel more excited and freer. Before that, I felt a lot of pressure.” – participant parent

A family sits on a rock and smiles as they look at photos on a camera

Vamos Juguemos is a family enrichment program that provides spaces for survivor families to strengthen their bonds with each other and heal from their experiences. In 2020, Caminar Latino received the Specialized Services for Abused Parents and Children (SSAPC) grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services. With this funding, we launched Vamos Juguemos as a joint family intervention program that seeks to encourage healthy communication, cooperation, and positive bonds between parent and child(ren) survivors of domestic violence.

The activities which families participate in include monthly events such as movie nights, sporting events, baking, camping, etc. They also participate in joint safety planning and family therapy. For many of the activities, children set the agenda, which lends itself to the idea of the healing nature of play as therapy.

An Innovative Approach to Meeting the Needs of Families

There are many programs that seek to strengthen bonds between survivors of domestic violence and their children. Unfortunately, most of these interventions employ approaches that don’t take into consideration the cultural contexts of the families they work with. As a result, these programs rely on parenting classes, nonviolent communication activities for children, and parent-child therapy. Caminar Latino employs these traditional interventions as well, but we also believe in the importance of just promoting that families spend time together, strengthening bonds while creating memories. This is what sparked the creation of Vamos Juguemos, through which we produce curated experiences for families that they otherwise might not have done on their own because of limited resources or time.  

son and mom watching ballgame live

These experiences are meaningful bonding opportunities that allow families to heal and overcome together. Examples of activities that families have participated in include movies nights, camping trips, a Braves baseball game, and trip to the zoo. After a three day camping trip, a mother said, “I never had a vacation in my life and this was amazing”, which highlights the importance of play not only for youth, but for the adult survivors and how this form of therapy can allow them to show up differently for their children.

In September 2023, the Vamos Juguemos Program received the Moving it Forward Award from the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.