Nonprofit Fundraiser for NJ’s First “Playful Learning Thinkscape” in Morris Township

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From the Museum of Creators and Innovators (MOMI):

What is a “Thinkscape”? The first in New Jersey is coming soon to a park under construction in Morris Township.

“What if we could build our communities around families and how children learn? »

This is the question that Sara Sorenson and Nicole Pittalugaco-founders of the Museum of creators and innovatorsalso known as MOMI, was back in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

Now, with their team at MOMI, a local non-profit organization, they are doing just that in a community park that will be part of the new Morris Market.

The Morris Marketplace is a shopping center under construction on a site adjacent to the Mennen Arena on E. Hanover Avenue in the township.

“Research shows that multigenerational learning – through the engagement of children and caregivers – creates important life skills and bonds that last longer and help shape educational attitudes towards learning outside the classroom. class,” says Sorenson.

“And what better place to create more joyful, inclusive and equitable learning experiences for all ages, but in an outdoor mall where families gather regularly. As a parent, I know firsthand the challenges of shopping with young children and having a place that combines shopping, fun and learning really helps.

Artist’s rendering of ‘Red Pole Forest’, part of a planned MOMI play area in Morris Township, July 2022. Image courtesy of MOMI.

MOMI was established in 2018 with a mission to build more playful communities and a world-class children’s museum in New Jersey – the only state in the country without one.

While building a new regional museum will take time, Sorenson and Pittaluga wanted to make a community impact now and demonstrate that learning happens everywhere. And creating a reflective landscape was the direction they wanted to go.

Thinkscapes brings the benefits of playful learning — which combines the enjoyable nature of play with a learning goal — into a public space.

“Once we heard about the park and had initial discussions with the developer and the township, we just knew we had to get involved,” says Pittaluga, who is also a Morris Township resident.

She and the MOMI team therefore collaborated with the Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network – a national think tank of early childhood researchers and policy makers – and has partnered with Morris Township and DeVimy Actionsthe developer of Morris Marketplace, to bring innovative learning to pocket park design to the mall.

When the mall was announced, the founders of MOMI contacted the developer to ask if they could partner with the park included in the plans. The mall’s vision was to create a place that could be considered a public square — a destination that connects communities across the region.

MOMI suggested integrating the creation of creative places, elements of a children’s museum, and the daily routine of shopping and dining. Community park designs are nearing completion thanks to a $10,000 grant in seed funding from a local family foundation.

The community park — Morris Market THINKSCAPE — as it will be called, is planned to include six innovative playful learning spaces.

Whether it’s telling a story at the Story Spinner, playing a matching game at Memory Match, jumping through the Playful Path, wandering through the Red Pole Forest, exploring sounds in the Sound Garden with musical flowers or exploring the properties of water at Creative Toile, there is something for everyone.

The park will be the first in New Jersey to join communities around the world that have provided families with a free children’s museum experience.

Jeff Grayzelformer Mayor of Morris Township, is a founding member of the MOMI Board of Directors.

“When my children were younger, we took them to children’s museums everywhere we went. When the opportunity arose to work with the developer of Morris Marketplace to incorporate a community park into the design, we jumped on it,” says Grayzel.

He added “I am thrilled that MOMI is building its first facility in this new park for the benefit of children and their families in the surrounding community.”

To make these playful learning spaces a reality, MOMI will have to raise $100,000 to build this new facility. So, MOMI has launched a fundraising campaign and hopes the community will help.

“We are thrilled to bring this innovative and forward-thinking project to the Morris Township area and hope we can garner enough support to bring the project to fruition,” Sorenson said.

To make a donation or become a sponsor, or for more information, visit here Where email here.

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