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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.

Almost four years ago now, a group of parents and community members started meeting in community cafes here in Auburn. The group was comprised mostly of families with young and school-aged children. These café conversations were special times each month where the families could have time to talk, learn from one another, enjoy a meal and, most importantly, just enjoy some good old-fashioned conversations.

Those conversations validated something the professionals in the community already knew. Parents of young children in the early childhood years felt isolated, and desired a place where their young children could safely play. They wanted to feel a real sense of connection with others.

They wanted a place that gave them a chance to get out and meet with others.

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These conversations, as well as many others, are what led to the soon-to-be Play Space for our community. It went from a desire and dream to a place full of people who are passionate about the power of play. Play for children and play for families. A place where children can grow and thrive because it’s not just a fun place, but a place full of resources and possibilities. The Play Space will allow children to play with age-appropriate materials that are open-ended and encourage creativity, imagination, learning and fun.

Now, as the opening is drawing closer, it feels like a special present is about to be opened. It’s been a labor of love from so many in the community. It will be a place where your child or grandchildren may play and make a forever friend. It will be a place where new café conversations can start and we can reflect back and say, "Remember when it was out in the community?" Now it’s here, it’s our new home away from home. A place full of laughter, smiles and milestones, but most importantly play.

As the Play Space team keeps working, be sure to check the website at playspaceabc.com for updates and spread the word to all those you know about this great addition to our community. We will also be looking for volunteers and to also fill a few part-time positions. It will be an exciting time for our community as we finalize plans and get to, at last, open this exciting place for families.

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Kara Georgi, of Auburn, is the mother of two children and is a contributing writer for ABC Cayuga. In addition, she is the co-chair of the Alliance National Parent Partnership Council, is on the Parent Leadership Team for the state Office of Children and Family Services, and is a certified trainer in the protective factors framework. She is also recognized as a tier-two state Parenting Education Partnership parenting educator. For more information, visit abccayuga.org or facebook.com/abccayuga.

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