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Rhonda Rosenberg, Director of Communications
King County Housing Authority
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Kent kids get early learning boost at new Kent Family Center playground

Kent kids get early learning boost at new Kent Family Center playground

Dec. 16, 2015 — Kent

Preschoolers run, climb, jump and slide in the new playground at the Kent Family Center. But they’re also doing something even more important: learning.

Countless studies emphasize the importance of giving preschoolers every opportunity to stretch their minds and their bodies. It’s why the King County Housing Authority built the playground that features not only fun-filled play structures, but also ways to develop their young brains.

“This playground is just one example of how the Authority is advancing its goal of helping kids succeed in school and in life,” said KCHA Executive Director Stephen Norman. “Designed especially for 3- to 5-year-olds, this new play area provides an environment that encourages preschoolers to explore, interact with nature and each other, and develop new skills.”

For the preschoolers, the playground is magical and exciting. Mustapha, says he enjoys the challenge of climbing up the colorful “big toy” play structure, then whooshing down the slide. Leo loves being able to run and play tag. And Halma scrambles to the top of the rock tunnel climber to get to the part she likes best: jumping off.

“It gives the kids an opportunity to develop their gross motor skills, manipulate their bodies, stretch their imaginations, and challenge their limits,” said Morningside Howard, a lead Head Start/Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) teacher at the center.

The Kent Family Center – owned by KCHA and located at its Birch Creek apartment community – houses four Head Start and ECEAP classrooms serving about 150 preschoolers. Kent Youth and Family Services oversees the programs.

Among other cool features, the playground incorporates live plants, trees and naturalistic elements where once there was Astroturf and concrete. That’s an important feature for kids whose primary exposure to the outdoor environment may be the walk from the front door of their apartment to their parent’s car.

“Play is a really important part of a child’s life and development,” said Page Meyer, director of early learning for the Kent School District. “Having this high-quality environment is important for supporting children’s social, emotional and physical development, and is critical to ensuring kindergarten readiness.”

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