February Update- 2/23/13

This has been an important week for the project, with several meetings that will help set up the next phase of our work. I met with Linda Lenahan, an inspector from the Massachusetts EEC (Department of Early Education and Care), who kindly agreed to take a look at the “playcube” design before it is completed. I wanted some feedback from someone who inspects child care centers for safety issues, and hoped I could get suggestions on any safety modifications that need to happen before the actual construction is completed. The meeting went well, and several changes in the design will be incorporated once the weather warms up and I can return to working in my barn on the playcube. The biggest change will be to try to enclose the sides of the cube with a “play friendly” netting, in order to insure that an especially agile and adventurous child can’t climb over the sides of the cube. The alternative would be to use thick mats around the entire cube, which would be quite costly. The netting idea was something I had considered, and could offer a nice sense of enclosure and privacy to children playing inside the play cube. If the “ceiling” also has netting, that could be a nice spot to let the balls land, and then jump and reach up to knock them down…

I want to thank Karen Cassidy, RN for her help and advice and guidance over the last month. She has been a wonderful source of information on different aspects of the project, helping me find connections for the places to try out the playcube and extend the outreach of the whole project. She also took time to come offer support and ideas during the meeting with the EEC inspector.

Karen also helped put me in touch with Linda Lastowski, Quality Assurance Coordinator from Square One in Springfield, who in turn has introduced me to Tabitha Desplaines at the New Beginnings Childcare Center on State Street in Springfield, where we will try to install the playcube in the Spring. They have a newly renovated space in the center where the playcube would fit very nicely, and upwards of 80 children who could play and use it each day. I will start with a “meet and greet session” at New Beginnings in March with the staff and parents, and try to get to know the children with some exercise sessions before the playcube arrives.

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