Team Redstone’s smallest members have a new place to play.
Army Community Service held a ribbon cutting Thursday for its new ChildWise facility at building 3467 on Vincent Drive. The ceremony was attended by Redstone leadership, ACS staffers and many happy toddlers, ready to check out their new hangout.
“(The program) empowers new parents and existing parents in so many ways,” said Garrison Commander Col. Bill Marks, who presented certificates of appreciation to ChildWise volunteers Bobby Hrees and Maria Marshall.
Also recognized was Virginia Dempsey, manager of the Family Advocacy Program for ACS, who oversees ChildWise and its partner, the New Parent Support Program.
“Virginia has spent many hours on this new facility and is the heart of the program,” ACS Director Sue Paddock said.
The ChildWise program supports healthy parent and child development through interactive playgroups. The program serves children ages 5-and-under with parents who have access to Redstone Arsenal. ChildWise Play Mornings will be held at the new facility and will focus on socialization with other children of their own age, play with age-appropriate toys and arts and crafts activities with his or her parent or guardian. Many of the children in the program attended the ceremony and wasted no time checking out their new digs, which included all of the classic, favorite toys, indoor and outdoor play equipment, and a full kitchen ready to provide a toddler staple: snack time.
“The open design (of the new facility) is great for visibility,” said Aimee Peterson, whose son Grant, 21 months, attends the play groups. “The security of the playground is better. Everything is clean and neat and organized.”
In addition to the play groups, the larger facility will provide an area for ACS’s New Parent Support Program to hold parenting classes and lactation consultations. The program is designed for parents of children 3-and-under and aims to create thriving family environments by empowering new parents with knowledge and resources. The program also provides Baby Bundles to families with newborns.
While the new facility is an expansion of the previous ChildWise home with new features and activities for the children, Marks expressed his optimism that the program will continue to build.
“I hope we quickly outgrow this facility,” he said.