'Learning Lot' planned

The northeast corner of Third and Chevrolet avenues will soon be the home of an outdoor, natural learning environment for the community's children, thanks to a $150,000 grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation, a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint's neighborhood beautification project, and a partnership between the Flint Children's Museum (FCM) and Kettering University. The children's museum is located on Kettering's campus.

Image removed. FCM and Kettering are joining forces for the creation of a "Learning Lot," an outdoor space for exploration and specialty programming at the children's museum. The $5,000 Community Foundation grant was awarded to Kettering University and was the impetus to the development of the "Learning Lot." The $150,000 grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation, awarded to the Flint Children's Museum, allowed the "Learning Lot" to become a reality.

Kim Yecke, executive director at the Flint Children's Museum, said the project will transform an empty corner lot into a useful, welcoming and functional space. "The goals of the Learning Lot will be to serve the FCM's mission by actively involving Flint area children in learning about plants, gardening and nutrition along with physical fitness and outdoor activities," Yecke said. "This is a wonderful opportunity to increase the neighborhood focus on beautification and serving young people."

Kettering President Stan Liberty said the Learning Lot will be a highly visible beautification and educational effort on Kettering's campus. "Not only will it provide us with additional green space," he said, "it offers an opportunity for Kettering students to continue contributing their abundant talents to the children of our community. We are all grateful to the Ruth Mott Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint for their investments in our neighborhood."

Yecke said North Carolina State University's Natural Learning Initiative has been brought into the project to maximize its potential. NCSU will facilitate community workshops and provide guidance and expertise in developing an outdoor learning environment. The first session is Friday, Oct. 27, when 30 children from Durant-Tuuri Mott School will tell the NCSU experts what they want to see added to their neighborhood.

Image removed. Yecke said the project will also consider how to address the FCM's parking and school bus needs in light of the forthcoming re-design of Third Avenue - something that is vital to increasing school field trip traffic and future programming plans. "The FCM is working with the community and our partners to provide opportunities and access to Flint area families, to support and complement the educational efforts of our schools, and provide an introduction to a lifetime of learning for Flint area children," she added.

For more information, please contact Kim Yecke, executive director, at (810) 767-5437. The Flint Children's Museum is a hands-on children's museum with over 40 new educational exhibits that demonstrate and reinforce the Michigan Curriculum benchmarks and standards for children ages 2 - 10, in addition to featuring themed months. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is located at 1602 W. Third Avenue in Flint and is a non-profit charitable community.

The Community Foundation of Greater Flint serves Genesee County and portions of neighboring counties. The Foundation manages assets totaling more than $115 million in 354 funds for a wide range of charitable purposes. In 2005, the Community Foundation awarded more than $5.4 million.

Written by Pat Mroczek
(810) 762-9533