FOX5DC “Prescription for Play” with LEGO blocks

It’s not often a visit to the doctor’s office turns to playtime. But pediatricians at Community Medical Providers are now putting a playful twist on child development– with the help of parents and LEGO building blocks.

“The most important thing we can give them is us, and that interaction,” says Dr. Quinton Young. This office is among the first in the Central Valley to launch LEGO’s “Prescription For Play” initiative.

The toymaker provides doctors with actual prescription pads calling for play, and bags of DUPLO blocks for patients, with endless possibilities. Dr. Veronica Ramirez says that while technology is great, basics are crucial when it comes to child development. “It’s about interacting, getting the kids to use their hands and their minds,” said Ramirez, who first learned about the program and asked her office to apply. “It seemed like a really good program to get our parents involved in playing with our kids and our kids involved in activities that are important for building fine motor development, recognizing colors, learning to count.”

CMP launched the program in Fresno last week. Parents are loving it. “Just sitting her watching and playing with that takes me back to when I was a kid with hours and hours of fun we had,” says Jed Rhine, who brought his three-year-old daughter Daisy in for a wellness check.

The program is aimed for parents and children who are three and under. It’s a time doctors consider crucial for brain development. 90 percent of a child’s brain develops by the age of five. Doctors say playtime doesn’t have to include the building blocks. You can use boxes, wooden spoons and even pots and pans. “We’re just asking for 15 minutes of time. Those 15 minutes will make a really big difference in a child’s life and in their development,” Ramirez said.

While many parents may feel they are too busy with other obligations to sit and play, doctors hope the prescription gives them the freedom to stop and focus on their kids. “All of our other jobs we wear as parents will still be there. But this time you have with your children, when they’re under five years old, we don’t get that time back,” Ramirez said. “Prescription For Play” launched in the U.S. in February. LEGO hopes to reach at least 50,000 children