Tucson Giving: Kids' museum will benefit from golf tourney

2014-05-18T00:00:00Z 2014-08-15T10:46:52Z Tucson Giving: Kids' museum will benefit from golf tourneyBy Loni Nannini Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

On the heels of Mother’s Day festivities last weekend, it’s time to start thinking about giving dads their due. Volunteers with Children’s Museum Tucson suggest you consider the gift of play at the 10th Annual Father’s Day Weekend Golf Classic.

“We have so many fantastic men in the community who like to give back, and having them play in this golf tournament is a good way of reminding them that the Children’s Museum Tucson is an important part of the community and that it serves a definite need for individuals through child development and play,” said Elizabeth Juneman, co-chair of the tournament.

“Play is an important part of life for children. We spend the rest of our lives being adults and it is good to be a child.”

Juneman, an associate professor of medicine in cardiology at the University of Arizona, is looking forward to incorporating the museum’s mission of providing fun, play-based, interactive, hands-on learning experiences for children and their families into the fundraiser.

She and her co-chair, Bill Holmes, and their volunteer committee plan to create a unique tournament that will integrate play-based activities in several holes on the golf course.

Activities will include the opportunity to allow children to putt in exchange for contributions, the chance to play obstacle courses on greens and “whimsical” tee activities.

The museum, which has undergone a million-dollar overhaul in the past several years, has also been working to make play-based learning increasingly available to the entire community, according to director of development and operations Autumn Rentmeester.

“Our attendance is up 80 percent in the last five years, and we are doing more free and reduced-price days, so the museum is not just a privilege for those who can afford it, but a right for everyone in the community to come learn, grow and play as a family,” she said.

Recent renovations include Art Studio and an early childhood education exhibit, Wee World, which opened last fall.

Art Studio is designed to inspire creativity by allowing children and their families to experience hands-on activity stations including guided art instruction, traditional easels with various surfaces and mediums, a water-painting slate and a three-dimensional chalk totem.

Wee World offers a place for children ages 4 and younger and their families to play and grow. Wee Play, Wee Wiggle and Wee Move promote child development and teach skills such as sharing, working in groups and literacy; active play on climbing structures and with building blocks improves motor skills and promotes imagination.

The museum continues to upgrade opportunities for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) through the reimagined Build It!, scheduled to open at the end of the month.

The area will offer over-sized construction, engineering and building materials such as a Rig-Ama-Jig set and Imagination Blocks, as well as flexible space for demonstrations and activities to complement nationwide academic goals in STEAM.

STEAM Sundays will offer reduced admission of $2 per person every Sunday from May 25 through Aug. 31. The museum will partner with local organizations to offer special activities each week.

“One of the things that the golf tournament makes happen is these free and reduced-price days so anyone can come and enjoy the museum. At least 10 percent of our days are now free or greatly reduced,” Rentmeester said.

In addition to supplementing general programing, money raised at the golf tournament may have another use: the museum is exploring the possibility of opening a small satellite location dedicated to children ages 5 and younger in Oro Valley.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at ninch2@comcast.net

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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