More Play for Downeast Children

by | Apr 17, 2023 | News

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Stop by any of the seven EdGE afterschool programs and one finds Downeast elementary students busily learning and playing. EdGE kids routinely engage in STEM, arts and crafts, and physical activities, and play is crucial to EdGE afterschool too.

Color photo of two white female children stand inside a play area dome. It is a sunny day and they smile at the camera.

An important part of a healthy and active childhoodstructured and unstructured play fosters imagination, cognitive growth, emotional growth, literacy, independence, and physical fitness. Since its founding in 2002, the Mission’s EdGE program has prioritized recreation to reinforce and complement classroom curricula. 

Color photo of a white child wearing a bright yellow jacket stands on monkey bars at an elementary school. Trees are in the background and it is spring.

As a part of the Mission Downeast Capital Campaign, Maine Seacoast Mission will build two play areas on its 63-acre campus in Cherryfield. Placed in two separate areas of the property, the Sunbeam play area will be boat-themed while the other will be sunflower-themed in memory of long-time EdGE program employee Suzie James. Ms. James was known for her belief in the restorative power of play for children, her energy and devotion, and as a tireless advocate for the families she served. 

Yet the Mission recognizes that EdGE afterschool programming takes place primarily on site in local schools to promote accessibility, student learning, family support, and success of the program. Play areas are crucial to the success of students. The Mission has chosen to award $35,000 for play area development to the seven elementary schools currently participating in EdGE afterschool education programming.

A color photo of two students with their arms around each other's shoulders

Each school will receive a $5,000 award, including Beals Elementary, Cherryfield Elementary, D.W. Merritt Elementary in Addison, Harrington Elementary, Jonesport Elementary, Milbridge Elementary, and Rose M. Gaffney Elementary in Machias. The grant awards for the play initiative will be disbursed to EdGE elementary school partners in 2023.

Our community partnerships are our strength,’” says Mission President John Zavodny. “Our school partners do an amazing job of balancing a thousand priorities all at once. Through this program, we want to honor the inspiring schools, communities, families, and children of Downeast Maine.

Color photo of four children playing on a snow-filled slide play structure during winter.

The principal of each school will determine how to best direct the funds, such as replacement of aging or broken playground equipment, playground materials, or application of the funds toward the larger cost of a new playground.

Throughout 2023, the Mission will share news about the equipment elementary school partners select. On the Mission’s Cherryfield campus and on school grounds, greater learning and development is guaranteed for Downeast children.

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