Citizenship

Court Opens Playroom for Families During Naturalization Ceremonies

“I hope this gives them kind of a moment of joy in life in what is otherwise kind of a serious day,” Chief Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer told NBC 5

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It may take years of preparation and lots of paperwork to become a United States citizen, but the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois is making the process more playful.

On Tuesday Chief Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer unveiled a playroom for children and families to play, read and color on the occasion of a naturalization ceremony at the Dirksen Federal Building.

The District Court converted storage space adjacent to the James Benton Parsons Ceremonial Courtroom into the American Dreams Playroom for families with children to play, and read while waiting for their naturalization ceremony to begin.

“I hope this gives them kind of a moment of joy in life in what is otherwise kind of a serious day,” Pallmeyer told NBC 5.

The Richard Linn Inn of Court donated toys, books, and supplies for the space, according to a district court press release.

“The American Dream is people helping people, spreading kindness, supporting one another and above all, welcoming one another,” said Lauren Schwartz of the Linn Inn of Court.

The District Court said it administers the Oath of Allegiance to approximately 1,100 new citizens at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse each month. New citizens are often accompanied by family members.

Juan Alvarez brought his children to the court house on the day he became a naturalized citizen. They enjoyed what the playroom had to offer before the ceremony began.

“I had a long drive and I’m pretty sure they’re happy to get out of the car and play,” Alvarez said. “I’m just really excited to become a citizen.”

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