Children’s Activity Corner
Preparing To Re-Open
From Buffalo to Jamestown
On May 4th, Jamestown’s imaginative play space for preschoolers called the Totspot will reopen as the Children’s Activity Corner with new displays and activities suitable for children up to age ten. It originally opened in August of 2018 when Linda Andrews, along with a group of friends, noticed the need for a play space downtown to compliment the development of hotels and the Comedy Center.
“I was motivated to provide something for visitors and children here in Jamestown,” said Andrews. “Everywhere we go with grandkids, we go to children’s museums.”
To the great benefit of the Jamestown Community, the formerly Explore and More of East Aurora agreed to donate their much-loved displays to the Children’s Activity Corner on 14 E 2nd Street. Explore and More is now Ralph C Wilson Jr. Children’s Museum at Canalside in Buffalo, slated to open this spring as a 43,000 square foot “world class” children’s museum.
Whether it be with toy food, building materials, instruments, or costumes, imaginative child-led play is proven to aid in brain development especially in the first three years of life. Andrews says, “We want kids to be exposed to curiosity and imagination in a safe and family-friendly space.” She has raised four children of her own and now has three grandchildren.
A Community Effort
“The museum in East Aurora was 5,000 square feet, and we received about 80% of their displays,” said Andrews. Fellow board member Nancy Knee talked about the time crunch involved in rescuing the contents of the museum. They had less than two days to dismantle and move the museum pieces before the lease for Explore and More expired. Mobilizing a team of 15 volunteers, and with help from the museum Staff and teens from East Aurora High School, everything was completed in one day.
Some of the “made for play” pieces were a scaled down house with removeable siding, plumbing parts, and wiring. A climbing wall and pretend construction site were also included.
The Children’s Activity Corner is a non-profit with a board of directors and volunteers. They hope to keep the cost low to truly benefit the community. “We are looking forward to a wonderful facility for all the kids in the community,” remarked Knee. The CAC also welcomes new volunteers and offers a simple volunteer application on their website.
Built in 1863 with an addition in 1910, the building on E 2nd Street is much larger than it looks from the outside, leaving room for future projects. Volunteers are currently working to incorporate global murals, representing countries like Sweden and Africa, alongside the original theme of historical Jamestown. The layout already includes a preschool area, an infant space, a room for nursing mothers, and ongoing work to utilize more square footage of the building.
As of right now there is only one step into the building, but plans include full handicap accessibility. Obtaining a 501C3 so donations to the center can be tax-deductible is also in process.
The Children’s Activity Corner will continue to offer a great space for birthday parties and special events like the “Noon Years Eve” party with a balloon drop. They look forward to being available as a day-trip destination for daycares, preschools, and elementary school groups. The cost is $5 per child. A library check-out program is in the works where groups of tickets can be checked out of the Prendergast Library and returned on time for no fee.
Readers are encouraged to stay updated by liking the Children’s Museum of Jamestown Facebook page, and visiting www.cmjwny.org.