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Play Space

From left, ABC Cayuga board of directors members Kathleen Cuddy, Kara Georgi with children Eliana and Michael, Katie MacIntyre, Lori Schakow and Nancy Tehan, joined by building owner Grant Kyle, stand inside the former HSBC bank building that will house the nonprofit's Play Space, which it plans to open early next year.

The work continues for the building of The Play Space, a project of ABC Cayuga more than two years in the making. In February, two exciting next steps happened: The exhibits started to get installed along with bright paint and colorful carpet, and the director of Play Space operations, Elizabeth Stilwell, joined the Play Space team.

Elizabeth Stilwell comes to The Play Space with a true love for play. When asked "Why play?" Elizabeth noted, "For young children, play is how they make sense of the world, and they use all of their senses. They are messy little scientists trying to figure out what they don’t know and pair it with what they do know."

She is not new to the power of play for children and families, and brings more than 20 years of working experience in leadership positions in programs dedicated to young children and families, including serving as the director of the Early Childhood Center at Cornell University and as the executive director of Family Focus, a community-based primary prevention program for children ages birth-5 and their families in Williamsburg, Virginia. She lives in Cayuga County with her husband, David, and her rescue dog, Luna. She has a daughter and a son.

Elizabeth is excited that Auburn is brave and believes that play is enough for young children and has created a space for children to play and families to connect, right downtown in the heart of the city.

Elizabeth is charged with building the team of play facilitators at The Play Space and, in the coming weeks, the space will prepare to open to the public, with a soft opening in March. In addition to the play areas, there will be a kitchen so parents and caregivers can get a cup of coffee and socialize with other parents, a large multi-purpose room that will be used for classes, meetings and birthday parties. There will be family-friendly spaces for strollers and diaper changing. The Play Space will be divided into sections for language development, gross motor, construction play, art and a general growth area for infants and toddlers.

Families can look for the Play Space team and learn more at its table at IGNITE the Winter on Friday, March 3, in the Genesee Center. Learn more at playspaceabc.com and stay up to date on progress by liking the Facebook page, facebook.com/playspacecayuga. In addition, information about volunteering and donating is available on the website.

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Katie MacIntyre is the assistant vice-president/marketing officer for Generations Bank. She is a social media contributor for ABC Cayuga and serves on the board of directors for its forthcoming Play Space. She lives in Auburn with her husband and is the proud mama to two boys, ages 5 and 2. For more information, visit abccayuga.org or facebook.com/abccayuga.

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