Collaboration Leads to "Tot Lot" in City

Anonymous's picture
June 10, 2002
Grand opening of inter-generational park to serve inner-city neighborhood

BALTIMORE, MD - A unique partnership between three non-profit and city organizations has resulted in the development of an inter-generational' park for seniors, neighborhood residents and toddlers of Kennedy Krieger's Early Head Start Center at the site of a former unused surface lot in Canton.

The collaboration between Kennedy Krieger, Baltimore City Commission on Aging and Retirement Education (CARE), Friends of the Family will culminate with the grand opening of Penner's Playground at 2:30 p.m. June 13. The park is located behind the Hatton Senior Center, at 2825 Fait Avenue.

Kennedy Krieger's Early Head Start provides Adult Education, English language for non-English speakers, GED instruction, parenting classes and advocacy to 55 families with young children ages 0-3 and pregnant women, in Canton at 2811 Dillon Street. The program promotes the overall intellectual and emotional growth of the family. Early Head Start began in 1995 to augment the federal program, Head Start, and serves children from 6 weeks to 3 years old.

Kennedy Krieger's Early Head Start Center had been searching for an age-appropriate playground for their children for the past several years. Most inner-city playgrounds are unsafe for toddlers and very young children. The lot next to the Hatton Senior Center, owned by CARE, had the potential to be a place where children and seniors could interact in a park-like setting. Working with CARE and Friends of the Family, Early Head Start advocated for the renovation of this site to meet the needs of the infants and toddlers involved in the program, the seniors at the Hatton Center and the community.

With the support of the Canton neighborhood, and with funding from Friends of the Family, Early Head Start began development of the tot lot portion of the park. CARE and the Hatton Center joined in to develop the senior's area, which includes a gazebo and a beautiful, landscaped grassy area.

Penner's Playground is named after Hannelies Penner, the first director of the Hatton Senior Center. Ms. Penner served in that position for 17 years until her death last year. She served seniors in the center and the community by planning social gatherings and trips.

"Penner's Playground will be a source of pride and community for this Canton neighborhood," said Gayne Barlow-Kemper, director of the Kennedy Krieger Early Head Start Center. "All age groups will benefit by bringing generations together and allowing them to interact in this recreational setting."

Friends of the Family, Inc. works with private organizations, public agencies and local communities to initiate, provide quality assurance services, and garner resources to ensure the development of a strong family support network in Maryland, and to promote policies and programs that strengthen and support all members of families with young children to encourage healthy and productive lives. Maryland's network of Family Support Centers currently numbers 31 centers; for further information call 410-659-7701.

The Commission on Aging and Retirement Education (CARE) is a public agency whose mission is to advocate, coordinate, and develop and delivery services for older Baltimoreans and their families.

Kennedy Krieger Institute is dedicated to helping children and adolescents with disabilities resulting from disorders of the brain achieve their potential and participate as fully as possible in family, community and school life. For more information about Kennedy Krieger, visit their web site at

Media Contact Inquiries:

Allison Loritz, (443) 923-7330
Julie Lincoln, (443) 923-7334

Receive Updates

Stay informed with the latest news and announcements from Kennedy Krieger.


Read inspiring stories, news and updates about the Institute's patient care, research, special education, professional training, and community programs.


Resource Finder


A free resource that provides access to information and support for individuals and families living with developmental disabilities.