WITF and PNC Foundation open three additional free educational spaces

PNC, WITF Family Play-and-Learn spaces continue to transform community centers, provide learning opportunities for young children

Harrisburg Police Commissioner Thomas Carter, Jim Hoehn of PNC Bank, Gloria Merrick of Latino Hispanic American Community Center, Jeannine Peterson of Hamilton Health Center, Blake Lynch of WITF and Ron Hetrick of WITF participated the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the launch of the new WITF Family Play and Learn, funded through a grant from the PNC Foundation, at Hamilton Health Center on November 3, 2021.

Harrisburg Police Commissioner Thomas Carter, Jim Hoehn of PNC Bank, Gloria Merrick of Latino Hispanic American Community Center, Jeannine Peterson of Hamilton Health Center, Blake Lynch of WITF and Ron Hetrick of WITF participated the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the launch of the new WITF Family Play and Learn, funded through a grant from the PNC Foundation, at Hamilton Health Center on November 3, 2021.

WITF and the PNC Foundation opened three additional WITF Family Play and Learns in Lancaster, York and Harrisburg made possible by a $75,000 grant from the PNC Foundation as first announced in April.

These free literacy and play spaces will be located at Hamilton Health Center in Harrisburg, at Tec Centro in Lancaster and at Keystone Kidspace in York.

The spaces are designed to offer young children access to reading, vocabulary development, science and math resources during what otherwise would be unstructured waiting time in public centers. Each location offers an open area with child-sized furniture, activity bins full of magnet blocks, plastic animal figures, a curated selection of board books and bilingual activity idea cards with suggestions for creative ways to play. Families also can check-out a PBS KIDS Playtime Pad, which is preloaded with more than 20 educational games and over 100 video clips that teach reading, math and more.

Children and their families enjoy the newly-opened WITF Family Play and Learn at Hamilton Health Center in Harrisburg. WITF and PNC announced two other new locations, at Tec Centro in Lancaster, and Keystone Kidspace in York, are also opening. A PNC Foundation $75,000 grant funded a total of six WITF Family Play and Learn spaces in 2021.

Children and their families enjoy the newly-opened WITF Family Play and Learn at Hamilton Health Center in Harrisburg. WITF and PNC announced two other new locations, at Tec Centro in Lancaster, and Keystone Kidspace in York, are also opening. A PNC Foundation $75,000 grant funded a total of six WITF Family Play and Learn spaces in 2021.

The new centers join the three others funded by the PNC Foundation, which were announced last April: Bright Side Opportunities Center and Crispus Attucks Community Center in Lancaster and York City Community of Hope in York.

PNC Grow Up Great® is a $500 million, multi-year, bilingual initiative that began in 2004 to help prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life. PNC Grow Up Great supports nonprofit organizations that work to improve school readiness and promote high-quality early childhood education.

“At PNC, we know education, particularly early education, is a powerful means for economic and social mobility,” said Jim Hoehn, PNC regional president for Central Pa. “We are grateful to work with organizations like WITF and Hamilton Health Center that are finding creative ways to reach all children in our community with high-quality educational opportunities.”

When it is safe for children to gather and share toys, WITF will add more to each site. Future plans include adding a mini puppet-theater, and a wider selection of books, blocks and art supplies.

“We are excited to open three more WITF Family Play-and-Learn spaces, thanks to the generous grant funding from the PNC Foundation,” said Blake Lynch, WITF chief impact officer and senior vice president.

Two families play with magnetic blocks, toys and books at the new WITF Family Play and Learn located in Hamilton Health Center. WITF Family Play and Learn spaces, supported by the PNC Foundation, offer opportunities for young learners and their families to engage in meaningful, educational activities during what would otherwise be unstructured waiting time.

Two families play with magnetic blocks, toys and books at the new WITF Family Play and Learn located in Hamilton Health Center. WITF Family Play and Learn spaces, supported by the PNC Foundation, offer opportunities for young learners and their families to engage in meaningful, educational activities during what would otherwise be unstructured waiting time.

At an early November ribbon-cutting ceremony outside Hamilton Health Center in Harrisburg, community partners gathered to celebrate the educational opportunities and safe, comfortable spaces for early learners. Hamilton Health Center provides medical, dental and behavioral primary health care services to individuals, regardless of their income status, language or ethnicity.

Jeannine D. Peterson, chief executive officer at Hamilton Health Center, shared her excitement about the partnership with WITF and PNC. “We are delighted to be a part of this new opportunity to provide a safe learning space at Hamilton. We are grateful to collaborate with WITF and PNC to serve our community and patients.”

Tec Centro is the primary provider of bilingual education and skills training to low-income individuals in Lancaster. Often, families they serve are facing barriers, including access to childcare. Often, job seekers have to bring their young children to Tec Centro, which can result in extended unstructured waiting time for children while their parents are receiving the services they need.

“Waiting for an hour or two could be a little difficult sometimes for kids,” said Marlyn Barbosa, director of Tec Centro. “It increases the stress level on the parents as well, so having this space where everyone can feel comfortable and calm is ideal.”

Having engaging activities for the whole family is also important to Keystone Kidspace.

“We could not be more excited that WITF and PNC chose Keystone Kidspace as one of the sites for these Family Play-and-Learn spaces,” added Jessica Brubaker, executive director and co-founder of Keystone Kidspace. “Creating this kind of an opportunity for smaller kids would really be difficult for us to do without their support. And we look forward to what we’ll be able to accomplish together now and what we’ll be able to achieve in the future.”

More information about WITF Family Play and Learn locations can be found here.

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