For some kids, making friends isn’t as easy as it looks. The reason could be that they’re new to the community, homeschooled, learning to speak a new language, or are simply having trouble making friends in their current situation. The solution, unfortunately, can be just as hard to figure out, especially for busy working parents.
Luckily, we live in the digital age and one man has brought a clever and useful app to the market to help — Play:Date. We spoke with the founder of Play:Date, Shamim Kassibawi, to learn how she came to create this app and how it can help children and even parents all over the world make lasting friendships.
Q&A with Shamim Kassibawi, Founder of Play:Date
Could you tell us about your background?
Born in Sudan and having moved to New Zealand back in the nineties, along with my family as political refugees – I am Sudanese-Kiwi. I am the youngest of five siblings and an aunt to nine nieces/nephews.
Professionally, I have been working in PR & Communications for over a decade now, having worked across industries such as petrochemicals, government, healthcare and technology.
My “appreneur” journey with Play:Date started two years ago when I realized a lot of the kids living today’s cosmopolitan lifestyle did not really have much of a social circle. Everyone is so busy leading such fast paced lives that a lot of parents often have a hard time introducing their kids to others their age – this was a gap I identified while living with my sister and her kids. I wanted to help families and this is how Play:Date was born.
How did you come up with the idea for Play:Date?
I’ve been living in Dubai for about 10 years now and as an expat, a lot of us are away from our families and sometimes struggle to make friends right away – this is applied to both parents and kids. As mentioned above, I noticed a gap and decided to build Play:Date where everyone could have a convenient straightforward relationship, whether it was kids making friends or parents meeting other like-minded parents.
Building and expanding your child’s social circle is so important, as it not only helps develop important life skills but it is also less likely that the child will have social and emotional difficulties later in life. As I stay with my sister and her family, I’ve always noticed a stark difference between the oldest and youngest sibling – the younger one is generally much more interactive, engaging and also spoke much faster than her older brother.
How can moms use Play:Date to make their lives easier?
Play:Date helps moms, dads and families in general. The primary goal was the use of playdates to help build a social circle for your child. Additionally, we have started adding various brand vouchers and complimentary entry at kid-friendly events onto the app (available in some countries), to make things easy and convenient for families. You no longer need to filter through numerous social groups online or the various chat groups we are all part of!
What has been your biggest challenge thus far?
Personally, it has been technology! For someone that has a purely PR & Communications background, wrapping my head around the technical software related aspects was difficult. However, the solution for this is to constantly educate yourself, adapt and of course have the right partners/team — you need to have the right people to guide, support, inspire and value you.
Could you discuss how Play:Date helps expats and diasporas?
In a nutshell, if you are new in the city and looking to build your child’s social circle, Play:Date will help you engage within the community.
Recently, we also added a ‘language’ feature that helps parents encourage kids to stick to their current language and become more fluent and/or encourage them to learn new languages.
What are your goals for the future?
My number one goal is to create a convenient way for parents to build their kids social circle. I never want to see a child being left out or bullied. I also want to provide families with an affordable experience through the vouchers and giveaways on Play:Date.
Lastly, I’d like Play:Date to offer mothers and women in general, a working environment that is best suited for them. A place where they can work flexible hours, bring their kids to the office and have a nursery/day care centre at Play:Date HQ – this is my dream.
We want to thank Shamim Kassibawi for answering our questions. We are excited to see what lies ahead for Play:Date.
For more information or to download the app visit: Play:Date