Local News

Grant opens Wonderfeet to low-income residents

RUTLAND — Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum, set to reopen after a major expansion later this month with new and improved interactive displays, will now be accessible to low-income families thanks to a grant from Green Mountain Power.

“We are thrilled to be able to support Wonderfeet and help open its doors to families who otherwise might not be able to enjoy all it has to offer,” GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said. “We see this as an extension of our support of Rutland’s Project VISION, which is focused on building community ties and improving quality of life in Rutland.”

The $20,000 grant, originally provided two years ago and intended for study of future growth at Wonderfeet, was freed up for its new purposes when consultants helped develop a business plan at no cost to the non-profit museum located on Center Street in downtown Rutland.

“We focused with GMP on how to make the museum accessible to all,” Wonderfeet Executive Director Myra Peffer said. “Wonderfeet’s focus is on family learning – teaching children through hands-on experiences while helping parents and caregivers learn how to help their children develop. This funding will allow us to make that opportunity available to at-risk families in local communities.”

A quarter of the grant will be used to help underwrite exhibit development, with the remainder funding museum after-school programs, in association with the Rutland Boys’ and Girls’ Club, and family memberships for at-risk families.

“In supporting families and children, the grant is also bolstering the expansion of the museum and the continued revitalization of downtown Rutland,” GMP Vice President Steve Costello said. “That’s what support for Wonderfeet’s continued growth downtown really means.”

“A children’s museum is a community investment in families and our future,” Peffer said. “Wonderfeet provides a place of early discovery and development of lifelong learning, compliments school curricula, and reinforces skills needed for academic success, while bringing visitors and local residents into the downtown.”

“Wonderfeet’s growth has been and will continue to be an important piece of downtown’s rebirth,” said Mike Coppinger, executive director of the Downtown Rutland Partnership.

Wonderfeet, focused on children from birth to age 8, was born out of the Rutland Creative Economy, which identified a children’s museum as one of the most important new initiatives for the community. During the summers of 2011 and 2012, volunteers joined with the Downtown Rutland Partnership to demonstrate the value of a children’s museum during Friday Night Live and the SaturdayFarmers’ Market. The museum began offering regular hours on Friday and Saturday in 2013 in space donated by Gus Louras, and is renovating a larger space owned by the Housing Trust of Rutland County on Center Street, set to open in February.

For more information on Wonderfeet, visit www.wonderfeetkidsmuseum.org.

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