Ethan Servello, 2, plays with water beads at the "Children's Play Day" at College of the Canyons on Saturday. Emily Alvarenga/The Signal

SCV children and families gather for ‘Play Day’

Santa Clarita families came together for a day of play on Saturday as the College of the Canyons Center for Early Childhood Education hosted its 16th annual “Children’s Play Day” in celebration of Week of the Young Child.

“This is our fourth year coming — we never miss it,” local mother Lily Nguyen said. “We look forward to it all year. If we have to plan a vacation, we plan it around this event.”

The Center for Early Childhood Education teamed up with the Southern California Valley Committee to provide children of all ages, from infant through school age, a variety of interactive and engaging play experiences.

“This event shows how important family is in our community,” said Clara Van Woerkom, an ECE student at COC. “Events like this are the reason families come together, and they give families an excuse to go out and do something together.”

More than 35 local organizations and nonprofits gathered at the COC Honor Grove on the college’s Valencia campus for this free event, allowing Santa Clarita families the opportunity to go out and play with their children while also learning about the resources available to them through the college and the community.

“There’s so many activities for the kids, and I just love seeing them gather around and play together,” said Ana Rodriguez, a volunteer and kinesiology student at COC.

James Nguyen holds a cockroach at the “Children’s Play Day” at College of the Canyons on Saturday. Emily Alvarenga/The Signal

Van Woerkom and Rodriguez, along with other COC students, were using pipe cleaners, string and beads to help kids make bracelets, necklaces or rings.

“It teaches children how to use their fine motor skills, which over time will strengthen their hands for writing,” Van Woerkom said. “Really it’s just fun for them, but it’s doing a lot more than they know.”

The event featured play areas, obstacle courses, face painting, water play, sensory tables, self-defense training, a drum circle, an animal meet and greet, and much more.

Denzel Cameron, 4, practices self-defense with Z Ultimate Self-Defense Studios at the “Children’s Play Day” at College of the Canyons on Saturday. Emily Alvarenga/The Signal

“I got into teaching martial arts to work with kids — that’s my heart and my soul,” said Bryce Chrisakis, instructor at Z Ultimate Self-Defense Studios. “So getting to have so many kids want to punch and kick and have fun is so great. This is such a great community event, and I love that there are a lot of people here and that we’re all just trying to do the same thing.”

Wendy Ruiz, event coordinator and faculty member at ECE, hoped the event not only gave families the chance to spend some time outdoors in the sunny weather but also inspired new ideas for play time.

“The whole goal is for families to see the importance of play,” Ruiz said.

Ava Anderson paints a picture at the”Children’s Play Day” at College of the Canyons on Saturday. Emily Alvarenga/The Signal

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