“Think about seeing a child play with bubbles for the first time.”
Michelle Figlar, executive director of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), describes moments like this with a wide smile. “It’s incredible every time,” she says. “It never gets old.”
Michelle understands the profound impact these moments have on young children. “We know that all children learn by exploring and doing hands-on activities,” she explains, and that’s what PAEYC offers at the new Early Learning Hub in Hazelwood.
Modeled after an existing Hub in Homewood, the Hazelwood Early Learning Hub will begin its programming in early 2015. Children, parents and caregivers will come to a thoughtfully designed, newly renovated space for support, professional development, reading programs and playtime.
The space, which also serves as the Hazelwood branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the COTRAIC Family Support Center, is the centerpiece in a community that’s working hard to redefine itself. Michelle adds that the spirit of collaboration in the space is an important part of the Hub’s strategy. ”We’re working closely with other organizations to offer families what they need most, without duplicating services.”
The Early Learning Hub is focused on children from birth to 5 years old, offering professional development services for caregivers, support and guidance for parents, reading programs and the Come Play! program, where children and their families gather weekly in the COTRAIC Family Support Center and enjoy two hours of open playtime.
During Come Play!, children of different ages enjoy separate spaces based on their needs. Infants and toddlers can crawl safely and freely; older children can enjoy manipulative puzzles, do crafts and draw; families can sit together in the kitchen and enjoy a snack and with the library in house, a good book is never far away. Michelle adds that the giant water table is already creating a lot of buzz.
“We’re a place where parents and caregivers build love and trust with their child,” she says. “And we hope to teach everyone that it can be as simple as spending time together, reading a book or even playing with bubbles.”
The Hazelwood Come Play! program is slated to be up and running in January and will be free of charge to all parents, caregivers and their children—regardless of residency. In the mean time, families can check out the new space in Hazelwood at 5006 Second Avenue or take part in Come Play! and PAEYC’s other programs at the Hub in Homewood.
To get more information about the Hazelwood Early Learning Hub, contact Michelle Figlar at Mfiglar@paeyc.org, or call 412.421.3889.
Featured photo: Children enjoy Come Play! at the Homewood Early Learning Hub. A similar program will begin in January at the new Hazelwood Early Learning Hub, Photo courtesy of PAEYC staff.