Constant Search for Children’s Activities Goes Online

While on maternity leave, Dallas lawyer Erin England filled a notebook with places she could take her now 4-year-old daughter to play. 

When they drove by a new spot, England added it to the list, which grew to include more than 100 locations over time.

However, when she took her search for local, family-friendly pastimes to the web, something was missing. Each search yielded similar results — activities where she had taken her daughter many times before or websites too cluttered with pop-up ads.

England decided to turn her notebook into a user-friendly activity database called PlaySource Dallas.

“I wanted to make something that was inclusive for all parents and other caregivers and also didn’t want to limit it to just one city,” she said.

The free resource lists nearly 1,000 recreation options in North Texas and allows visitors to search through a directory and suggest other activities.

“You can filter the directory by location, price, indoor [or] outdoor, and category,” England said, adding that the possibilities range from ax throwing to indoor playgrounds to zip lining.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive since the site’s launch on Feb. 1, she said.

“I think parents are hungry for information and are frustrated with the lack of resources available to them,” England said. “Parents with grown children often tell me, ‘Where was this when my kids were young?’”

Erin England

Despite PlaySource’s success, England said that her reach had been limited so far since the website is a passion project, and she doesn’t have an advertising budget.

“The growth has been organic so far, starting with my friends and family and online social network,” England said. “My goal is to spread the word to every parent and grandparent in North Texas.”

When the coronavirus outbreak hit, England had to put PlaySource on hiatus, since nearly every business in the directory had shut down. She relaunched on June 1.

“I think parents are hungry for information and are frustrated with the lack of resources available to them.”

Erin England

Since businesses have begun reopening, England has featured daily at least one venue on PlaySource’s Instagram and Facebook.

“Now, more than ever, we need to feature locally-owned places to show our support,” England said.

England’s day-to-day role includes posting on PlaySource’s social media and connecting with community members. 

“I love the community engagement part of the project; I feel so connected with the moms and dads of North Texas,” England said. “And I also add new places to the directory multiple times a week; it’s a quick and easy process.”

PlaySource development began last summer. England and University of North Texas graduate Dominique Thomas designed and tested the website for several months. 

England, an SMU Law School graduate and partner at Katten’s commercial finance practice, hopes to expand to other cities.

“It would be a dream come true to create a PlaySource Austin, PlaySource Houston, PlaySource Atlanta, and so on,” England said. “Right now, the focus is on perfecting the model here in Dallas, but expansion is always on my radar.”

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