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posted: 8/19/2014 8:56 AM

Naper Settlement unveils Early Learning Playscape

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  • Naper Settlement's Early Learning Playscape celebrated its grand opening, providing a place where younger visitors can play at the museum village.

      Naper Settlement's Early Learning Playscape celebrated its grand opening, providing a place where younger visitors can play at the museum village.
    Courtesy of Dave Kelsch

  • Naper Settlement's Early Learning Playscape includes a water area where visitors can cool off on a warm day.

      Naper Settlement's Early Learning Playscape includes a water area where visitors can cool off on a warm day.
    Courtesy of Naper Settlement

 
By Donna DeFalco
Naper Settlement

More than 200 people attended a grand opening ceremony Aug. 14 for the Rita (Fredenhagen) and John Harvard Early Learning Playscape at Naper Settlement in Naperville.

The 10,000-square-foot interactive area targeted to children ages 2 to 7 officially opened to the public Sunday, Aug. 17, during "Naperville Plays." The special day of play was a partnership between Naper Settlement and the DuPage Children's Museum.

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During the ceremony, Naper Settlement President and CEO Rena Tamayo-Calabrese thanked those who helped make the playscape possible.

"When children are engaged in age-appropriate activities at the playscape, we hope that they will develop a love of history that stays with them forever," she said.

"Education has always been important in Naperville, and the playscape is a new and fun way of connecting with our youngest learners," said Sally Pentecost, chairwoman of the Naperville Heritage Society.

"The children and parents who participate in the playscape are embracing our vision of 'Live History and Inspire Our Future.' It ties in with our mission of preserving, educating, engaging and connecting with our community." 

The playscape features a splash pad, the only one of its kind in Naperville; a trading post; fort-themed play structure; and other hands-on activities. It is available to children with a broad spectrum of capabilities and is accessible to children with special needs.

The playscape will be open to families during Naper Settlement's regular hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday until Oct. 31. The museum is closed to the public on Mondays.

The playscape was funded by a gift from John and Rita Harvard, Naperville's Special Events and Cultural Amenities Fund and Capital Improvement Program, Naperville Park District and donations from individuals and families. It was designed by Hitchcock Design Group and Wight & Co. Kee Construction of Chicago served as the general contractor.

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