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Volunteer donation brings more play-based learning to P.A. Geraci Center

Students attending the P.A. Geraci Child Development Center have received a new playground and outdoor space for more play-based learning, a need fulfilled by the generous donation of two long serving volunteers, Judy Diamond and Dennis Hendrickson.

The new play area is landscaped, mulched, and enclosed with a fence, conveniently located next to several classrooms to allow easier access for students. The playground offers a variety of adventurous and engaging activities for kids, featuring swing sets, slides and a two-story clubhouse, which will provide play-based learning for the center’s class of 3-year-old students.

“Before this playground was installed, we had only one playground for three classrooms,” said Kimberly Molloy, education program manager for Child Care of Southwest Florida, which operates the center. “When Ms. Judy asked what she could do to help the center earlier this year, I let her know we had a huge field with no playground equipment, and that’s really where the need was.”

Construction and installation started in June, when more than 20 volunteers came out to help install the new the new play area and equipment at the center. The project was completed over the course of a month with the help of local companies, Scotlynn Group and United Mechanical.

The P.A. Geraci Child Development Center is located in the Dunbar community and part of Child Care of Southwest Florida, a nonprofit that provides family-centered care to help students thrive academically at an early age. Programs engage children in play-based learning activities that reflect their interests, stimulate their imaginations, and strengthen their social, academic, problem-solving and motor skills.

“We have a great deal of families in need of care, and often, they’re not able to afford it. That’s where the P.A. Geraci Center comes in,” said Yolanda Yslas, center director. “A lot of the families that come here don’t have the time to go to a playground, so we can help facilitate that with play-based learning.”

On July 14, children and staff gathered on the new playground at the P.A. Geraci Child Development Center to express their appreciation. Diamond received a special plaque and hand-drawn thank you banner from the center’s 3-year-old classroom.

“If Ms. Judy hears you say one thing that she thinks you need, she’s going to be coming to you trying to make it happen. We’re so thankful for her and everything she does for our kids,” said Chris Hansen, CEO of Child Care of Southwest Florida.

The P.A. Geraci Center plans to continue adding to their new playground, like installing a walking track for students that will encircle the play area. For more information about Child Care of Southwest Florida and opportunities to give, please visit CCSWFL.org/giving or call 239-278-1002.

About Child Care of Southwest Florida

Child Care of Southwest Florida, Inc. (CCSWFL) is a nonprofit early childhood education provider with five learning centers in Lee and Hendry counties that serve more than 400 children from 6 weeks to 8 years old. Each center is accredited through the National Accreditation Commission for Early Learning Leaders and is recognized as a Gold Seal Quality Care Program through the Florida Department of Children and Families. All CCSWFL locations have five-star ratings through the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida. CCSWFL follows the nationally recognized, research-based Creative Curriculum, with a goal of creating safe, nurturing learning environments that develop young minds, support families, strengthen the community and secure the future. Through its participation in the USDA’s Child Food Care Program, each child has access to a healthy, nutritious breakfast, lunch and snacks. Sponsor, volunteer and donation opportunities are available. For more information, please visit ccswfl.org.

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