WSRE Meets Community Needs with PBS KIDS Imagination Station
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When local philanthropists Quint and Rishy Studer offered WSRE the use of a large indoor space inside the Pensacola Bayfront Stadium (a minor league baseball park) the station never would have dreamed of everything that has unfolded at the WSRE PBS KIDS Imagination Station. And with the additional help of the Kugelman Family Foundation and other grants and local corporate support, the Imagination Station has become the “go-to” venue for the PBS KIDS crowd and their families, building on the success of a recent WSRE local baseball documentary, and the station’s long-standing early education commitment.
The Imagination Station leverages the vast array of educational resources and programming available through WSRE and PBS KIDS – books, educational toys, online resources, PBS KIDS games and apps, and a chance for children and adults to enjoy playing and learning together in a hands-on activity center. While children engage in PBS KIDS-themed activities, staff share information with parents and grandparents about additional resources -- like lesson plans and curriculum -- available online at pbslearningmedia.org and pbskids.org. The Imagination Station receives an overwhelmingly positive response from the community, with many parents and teachers sharing anecdotally their children are more engaged in literacy-based activities at home and in the classroom after their visit to the center.
Since its inception in 2013, there have been over 24,000 visitors to The Imagination Station. An average of 100 visitors enjoy the facility during the times that the venue is open to the general public, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 9am to Noon. During the Wahoos baseball season, the center is open during each home game and many more families stop in. WSRE also partners with several local organizations and educational groups, which focus on early intervention and children with special needs. These organizations have found the Imagination Station to be a perfect place for their littlest students to learn and play in a safe and fun environment.
For example, Autism Pensacola visits the Imagination Station once a month for a play date and parent support group, and the group has helped WSRE cultivate relationships with other community organizations dedicated to helping children with special needs. These organizations use the Imagination Station’s inviting atmosphere as a place for occupational and behavioral therapy visits.
A variety of other community partners leverage WSRE’s Imagination Station to further their own respective commitments to early education, including the Family Resource Activity Model for Early Education (FRAME), the Escambia County Early Learning Coalition, and the NAS New Parent Support Center, a program for local military families. WSRE also has plans for additional Imagination Station activities, partnering with local schools, teachers, preschools and the zoo, as well as a variety of PBS KIDS themed events at the ballpark during baseball season for all local families.