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Huntington Children's Museum logo.jpg

HUNTINGTON — A group of volunteers is working together to build a place for Huntington area children to learn.

A Facebook page recently appeared for the Huntington Children’s Museum. Local parents who want Huntington’s children to have access to different indoor enrichment spaces are behind the group.

Tosha Pelfrey, a leader of the museum group, said the museum is in its initial phases. The group has turned in nonprofit paperwork to the state and will have to get a 501(c)(3) status before applying for grants and funding.

The group is looking for more volunteers who can help with the creation of the museum. A Google Form to collect information from potential volunteers was shared on the museum group’s Facebook page. Pelfrey said that as of Wednesday, the group received about 30 volunteer sign-ups.

“The more, the merrier,” Pelfrey said. “We really wanted people with different expertise and we really wanted to include the community. The more people involved, the better the outcome is going to be.”

Pelfrey said the process to open a facility could take between two and five years. The group is looking for a building but has not decided on a location yet.

A survey was distributed a month ago about what the community wanted to see in Huntington, Pelfrey said. About 1,500 responses were received. Over 90% of the respondents said Huntington needed more informal learning spaces like this.

Right now, the plan is for the museum to focus on children under 10 years of age and STEAM programs (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), Pelfrey said. While it is still early in the planning phase, Pelfrey said the group hopes to include hands-on exhibits and areas like an animal habitat or a robotics lab.

“We don’t have enough people in our community to take on jobs in the STEAM field as is, so creating something like this will hopefully help with that,” Pelfrey said.

Pelfrey is a mother to two children. The family relocated to the Huntington area after living in a different place with lots of indoor enrichment spaces for young families. Pelfrey said the group feels like Huntington doesn’t have a space like that nearby.

Having a children’s museum in Huntington would be accessible to local children, Pelfrey said. Some families do not have the privilege to be able to travel out of the area for similar facilities. The museum could also be a supplement to a child’s education by giving them another avenue to learn outside of the classroom.

Councilwoman Holly Smith Mount is another parent involved with the Huntington Children’s Museum. She said she started to help with the program after seeing the idea on Facebook. The group has a lot of momentum behind it, Mount said.

Mount said having an indoor activity option for Huntington’s families means they can bond year-round as the weather changes. Being accessible to all gives another opportunity.

“Kids learn through play. That’s how they learn. And I think with schools these days, kids are so structured. They don’t have time or opportunity for free play, and that’s something we want to provide,” Mount said.

McKenna Horsley is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @mckennahorsley.

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