Athens oconee parent jan17

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make it happen


By Leigh Ellen Magness

“LITTLE ATHENS” Creating a Children’s Museum

hen Sarah at AthensOconee Parent asked me if I’d be willing to write something about working toward my dream of creating a children’s museum in Athens, I jumped at the chance. Not only will I talk about it, it’s all I want to talk about. I have been talking about it to anyone who will make eye contact! I enjoyed children’s museums even before I had kids because I’m a huge play nerd, but it wasn’t until my first son was born that I really wanted to create one in Athens. Selfishly, I want to create a children’s museum because I want an educational and recreational indoor play option

for my own kids to enjoy without driving over an hour away. I began thinking on this years ago, and at the time it was a pipe dream. Over time, my dreams and thoughts about it became more concrete and started to feel more realistic. I shared my ideas with people in my professional and personal inner circle, and I started brainstorming with others about how to make this a reality. At some point everything seemed like a possibility, which was both exciting and overwhelming. Focusing on creating a smallscale version of Athens seemed like a good way to get the community involved, as well as a great framework for which to provide structure and direction. My current business partner, Leslie Schwartz, accidentally

FAQs about “Little Athens” What’s this rumor about Athens getting a children’s museum? It’s true! Little Athens is a federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit. It exists as an organizational entity, but not yet as a physical space. There’s a group working on all the various steps that it takes to make that dream into a reality. Who’s behind it? There’s a group of Athens business leaders, non-profit directors, and volunteers, led by Leigh Ellen Magness, licensed clinical social worker and registered play therapist. What’s it going to be like? We don’t know exactly yet, but the plan is to create a small scale city where kids can play and explore. But it won’t be just any city, you’ll find local Athens businesses and attractions sized just for kids. It will be a place where kids and parents can engage 26

Athens-Oconee Parent

engage with each other while watching and engaging with their kids. When is this going to happen? Expected opening is late 2017 or early 2018.

together in play, and learn more about what it takes to make a community work. Athens has several options for physical play spaces, but few for imaginative or pretend play.We also hope to incorporate a central place for parents to meet up. Whether stay-at-home parents want to get out of the house and socialize with other adults, or two parents need to attend to a few minutes of business on a day when their kids aren’t in school, we’d love to have a space where parents can

Where will it be? The group has not selected a site yet, but has conducted preliminary research on several local locations. Currently the group is working on completing an application for the IRS, as well as creating a procedure for which businesses will be included in exhibits, and fine tuning the business plan. How can I get involved? We’re glad you asked! The steering committee has identified several areas that need support from committee members, as well as some one-time administrative tasks that supporters can volunteer to do. For more information, visit