CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Kids at the Piedmont Family YMCA child care center in downtown Charlottesville are enjoying a new gift.

Wednesday, February 13, marked the first day for kids to play on the YMCA’s new $30,000 playground at the Jefferson School City Center.

It’s all thanks to a $30,000 match grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation and the Adiuvans Fund.

The YMCA says this is a big upgrade from the donated backyard toys that didn't hold up to the wear and tear of preschoolers.

“For the kids, it's key to part of their social development, their emotional development, their physical cognitive development,” Missy Corbin, the director of the YMCA child care center at the Jefferson School, said. “Research shows that outdoor play is one of the factors in being successful in all of those areas of development.”

The new playground caters to kids between 18 months and five years old.

The Piedmont Family YMCA says the new playground provides a play structure that a lot of these children don't have at home.

Press Release from Piedmont Family YMCA:

Charlottesville, VA – February 13, 2019 – The YMCA Child Care Center serves on average 180 preschool age children each year. With a focus on affordable options for early childhood education, the Y partners with local subsidy providers such as Department of Social Services and United Way to ensure that all children have access to a quality early childhood education, regardless of ability to pay. The Y’s goal is that all children meet kindergarten
readiness benchmarks.

Thanks to a $15,000 anonymous matching gift through the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, which was matched by the Adiuvans Fund, this $30,000 playground was specifically designed for preschool age children, having separate spaces for 12-24 month old children, 2-3 year old children and 4-5 year old children. “I continue to be inspired by the generosity and passion of our donors,” says Brennan Gould, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “This project is a wonderful way to directly impact the experiences of our youngest community members.”

Kids love playgrounds. These new age-appropriate outdoor play structures add more fun to the day and enhance the learning environment of children.

“Playgrounds are vital for a child’s cognitive, emotional, physical and social development,” says Missy Corbin, Child Care Program Director. “Research shows that many of the fundamental milestones that children must achieve, such as exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development can be most effectively learned through outdoor play.”

The new playground is not the only change at the YMCA Child Care Center. The YMCA was selected as a pilot for UVA Curry School’s STREAMin3 Curriculum, which focuses on 5 core skills (relate, regulate, think, communicate and move) that form the building blocks for later learning and 6 STREAM skills (science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math) to prepare children for success in Kindergarten and beyond. Staff are currently in training and the curriculum will fully launch in August for the 2019/2020 academic school year.

“A new playground and a new curriculum are ways we are working to transition the YMCA Child Care Center from a day care to an intentional early learning and school readiness model,” says Jessica Maslaney, CEO. “We are most grateful to these donors and excited about the expanded opportunities for area children.”