(New Philadelphia, Ohio) – Two years ago, a small group of community members got together to share a concern tha was becoming more apparent in their various professional and personal lives: the lack of diverse activities for young children in Tuscarawas County, especially those younger than school-age.
Unsure if this issue was limited to their specific groups, they sent out a community survey, which generated over 100 responses in under 3 weeks. The results supported what was initially assumed; 89% of respondents said there were only some or severely limited activities for their children. When asked about their thoughts on a children’s museum opening in Tuscarawas County, not one response was negative or indifferent. So the original group decided to form STEAM Centers.
STEAM Centers became incorporated and earned 501(c)3 status by the end of March 2017. That same month, STEAM began participating in community events, engaging with kids through simple hands-on activities. Things like making slime, art robots, and catapults encouraged kids to experiment to solve a task, pulled parents into working with younger kids to help with skill development, and provided brief opportunities to engage in fun and play within their communities.
In 2017, 360 children participated in these make-and-take style activities. The next year, STEAM decided to add more play elements to what was becoming the Pop-Up Museum, activities like geoboards, gears, sensory bags. They also began partnering with established organizations that were serving marginalized children and families, particularly Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Through the community and school-based events in 2018, STEAM Centers engaged with 1100 children. As for this year, 575 kids have played at the Pop-Up Museum in the first three months. The need and desire for these sorts of opportunities is only growing larger, and STEAM Centers needs to grow to meet it. The primary goal of STEAM Centers has always been the establishment of a permanent children’s museum, and the organization’s focus in 2019 is building the capacity needed for such an institution. But support from our parents, community members, and fellow businesses is needed to make this a reality for Tuscarawas County families.
STEAM Centers is holding a fundraising event on Saturday, April 27th at 5:30 PM at the Knights of Columbus in Dennison. Tickets are $25 per person and include a full steak dinner. Live music is being provided by Hannah Hubbard, silent auction and 50/50 will be held, and a cash bar is available. STEAM will also be sharing some current news on the Pop-Up and Children’s Museum initiatives.
To purchase tickets or find out more information on STEAM Centers, visit their website at www.steamcenters.org, call or email Sam Wottle at 330.754.4618 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you will join us in going Full STEAM Ahead!