What People Are Saying!...
"Amazing, structured, high energy playgroup honoring the diversity of the Black experience! Warm staff that feels like family, Afro play Oakland is such a community treasure. My little ones (2) and (4) have been attending for nearly two years every Tuesday and it has been such a nurturing, culturally affirming and developmentally appropriate space. I always recommend families to Afro play."
"Love this community. The teachers are amazing and I hope they expand. It's a beautiful place to celebrate our culture and learn from the diversity of the diaspora."
"A space we need as families and community."
-Facebook Follower (via FB Recommendation)
"I recommend their dedication, heart, and commitment to the community they serve!"
"I found out about Lotus Bloom from an ex-business partner of mine. I went online to check them out and attended Afro Play with my son. I loved how the staff treated us, the other parents and children were all having a good time. The staff was very engaging, supportive, and so kind. Afro Play is a great way for my son to meet kids that look like him, and for him to experience his culture at a young age. It also helped me to meet new people. I love going and having a chance to bond with everyone. Please check them out, you and your child(ren) won't be disappointed."
"We love Afro-Play sooo much! They provide such a warm & welcoming environment for families. Ajhana & Ellen are so much fun & keep the kids engaged & hyped. Their circle times are the funnest- so full of singing, music, and good vibes. The teachers are so engaging with the families and children during activities & free play. We were blessed to find such a welcoming playgroup for our kids to socialize in with an Afrocentric lens and amazing teachers. My daughter was always singing the circle time songs when we got home. AfroPlay also puts on great community events to get the kids together outside of the playgroup- we went to almost every one & had a great time. We sincerely miss AfroPlay and hope they return soon!"
"There aren't enough words to express how blessed my son and I are to be a part of the Afroplay family!
Ellen, Ajhana, and Janelle are amazing teachers!!! Gabriel has learned so much through discovery, investigation, and exploration by way of the wonderful sensory activities and workshops they offer to the children.
I can't thank them enough for loving our babies the way they do! Not only have they touched my heart, but their appreciation for our participation has motivated me to invite as many children of color as possible to partake in this wonderful program!
We can't wait to "boom shake, shake, shake the room" with you again!"
"I was recommended to bring my baby to Afro-Play by a neighbor who made it her goal to welcome me to the Bay Area. I had recently moved to Oakland from Houston with my then 8 month old and 5 year old daughters. I had no idea where to begin with finding a community and it seemed she knew just what my spirit needed.
Upon our first visit to Afro-Play we were welcomed with warm hugs and big smiles, almost like we were long distance cousins reconnecting at a family reunion! I have to be honest attending those weekly playgroups had become more about me then the baby, though it really was a win-win for all. Anyone who knows me knows that the art table gave me life, helped me to release stress and helped me to access my creative fire again.
I could go on and on about how inspiring it has been to connect with like minded mothers and fathers and to have a safe space for our babies to express their blackness with pride. I love how structured each week was and how the themes expressed were things I could personally connect to.
One of my favorite memories was the Kwanzaa potluck! Being so far from home often has me missing family and the warmth of my community. It was so great to break bread with the Afro-Play tribe! As I write this I can think back to so many wonderful memories including having the opportunity to walk in the Black Joy Parade which will forever amaze me!
Most of all, I am so grateful for the community outreach that Afro-Play provides. The diaper donations and gifts have really helped us out during our time of need. I have been greatly missing our playgroups since the onset of COVID-19 but will make sure that we are in the building as soon as things open back up.
Thank you so much Ajhana and Ellen and the rest of the Afro-Play family for welcoming my family with open arms!"
"We began attending Afro-Play when my daughter was almost two and now she’s almost three. She’s shy and slow to warm up but that’s never deterred our Afro play leaders. They always manage to give her just enough space while also encouraging her and letting her know it’s safe to come out of her shell. She’s in school now so we rarely get to attend but her experience at AP helped prepare her so much for the structure and routine of a preschool environment. AP is more than just a playgroup, it’s a village. The teachers aren’t only gifted at working with toddlers, they’re compassionate and inspiring community leaders. They set a tone and create an environment that is supportive of the whole family—moms, dads, grandparents, caregivers & siblings. With the changing demographics in Oakland and the constant displacement of Black and Brown families the timing of AP couldn’t be better. It’s so nice to have a place where we can just be “us” with our children. Not only can we be ourselves but our culture is affirmed and celebrated. I could go on and on about how much we love Afro-Play and what an asset it is to the community."
"I am thoroughly grateful for Afro-Play! I am thankful for the space that you all have created for our children to grow and flourish. The integration of fun, learning, and community is matchless and incomparable to any other program we have been apart of. For my family, Afro-Play served as a breath of fresh air! The space has allowed my girls to play and explore freely with a community of caring adults and families who share the same skin color, and hold true to similar values regarding being intentional about raising our children! For that alone, I am grateful to the entire Afro-Play family! Looking forward to seeing you all soon!!"
"Afro Play has been a great community for my family. It is a place where we can connect, grow and learn which benefits not just my child but myself as well. A place and space that we can relate and feel comfortable while growing our sense of community."
"Great place for kids of color to learn, explore and build friendships! So happy I found this place."
"It is truly my pleasure to write this letter of appreciation and gratitude on behalf of Afro Play Oakland and its wonderful leaders and teachers. My son and I learned about Afroplay from my sister Angel. My sister was greeted by the beautiful and warm spirited sister Ellen one day out in the community. She shared about Afro Play in a way that was exciting and inviting. My sister then shared with me with the same excitement and this peeked my interest and I became curious and wanted to know what the “Afrocentric Play group” was all about! My son Ezreal and I attended for the first time and we fell in love as a result of our experience. We were greeted with smiles and information. We were received in love and reverence! We experience an abundance of joy and celebration of culture. We were unified in rhythm and rhyme. We were free to be free! We were free to embrace all of who and that which we are individually and collectively. When we depart for the day, we say farewell, parting with resources, tools, as well as new and growing friendships/relationship.
In the midst of all the fun, reading, singing, and dancing our babies are learning, sharing, and laughing together in a safe environment. We get to see our babies thrive and interact in a fun loving and supportive environment. An environment structured so well and ensures our children’s growth and development in all capacities. Our Beautiful Afro Children are inspired through many modalities: Intellectually, physically, socially, and culturally to name a few. Intellectually through African American/Afrocentric literature, song and poetry. Physically through dance, hip-hop, creative movement, and outdoor play. And to highlight “Hugs, High fives, Harambee!” Socially and Culturally through Afrocentric traditions, shared best practices, cultural acknowledgement and expression, storytelling, and learning from a host of community leaders, artist, teachers, parents and caregivers alike!
Afro Play is a rare and unique jewel nestled in the HOOD of Oakland. A program that works, a program that embraces the whole child. A program that Unifies. A program that is represented professionally and culturally. A program that is cost effective and resourceful, and a program that has two dynamic leaders/teachers: Sister Ellen and Sister Ajhana. They all flow well together which fosters a well organized flow. They have a delightful, loving, and authentic approach that is appreciated. My son and I enjoy ourselves every time we attend and look forward to creating and experiencing many more great memories with our Afroplay/Afrocentric families.
Shout out to all the parents and children who attend Afroplay; you are LOVED and you MATTER!"