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Growing up is all about learning where you belong. Finding our footing in this crazy world isn’t always easy. Locally, the Child Care Action Council (CCAC) works to promote and nurture early learning communities and support childcare, parent education and healthy families. As part of their Summer of Service, they recently hosted a Sense of Place walk to inspire little bodies, minds and spirits.

person painting the Child Care Action Council Sense of Place Walk
On Saturday, August 20, volunteers on behalf of the Child Care Action Council came together to build an all ages Sense of Place walk. Photo courtesy: Child Care Action Council

Kids Find a ‘Sense of Place’ Near Garfield Elementary

Within the Sense of Place walk are multiple stations and works of art, all surrounding Olympia’s Garfield Elementary. By the end of September, QR coded markers will be installed at each station which will connect walkers with online content like games, historical facts, insight and education matching that station’s theme. On Saturday, August 20, teams of volunteers descended on the area to spray paint stencils.

“The Sense of Place Walk Painting event went well this past Saturday,” says the CCAC’s Danielle King. “Eighteen volunteers from the Child Care Action Council, Capital Centennial Rotary, Brian King Agency, and members of the community risked gym shoes and manicures to spray paint 15 stencils around the Garfield Elementary block. There are a total of 14 stations.”

The area was chosen thanks to their access to bus service, school, amenities and nearby park. Station 13 is even located inside school grounds so students and staff can use the Peace Path during the day without leaving campus.

Child Care Action Council Partners to Support Kids

Painted square activity designs on a sidewalk
The walk treks around Olympia’s Garfield Elementary and includes more than a dozen stations of activities and information. Photo courtesy: Child Care Action Council

“This project was done in partnership with Intercity Transit’s Walk ‘N’ Roll program and with support and funding from the Washington State Department of Health and the TBI Council,” says King. “The Child Care Action Council embraced this project in part to celebrate our 35 years of service to this wonderful community!”

“CCAC hopes to make a sustainable impact on the community surrounding Garfield Elementary,” she continues, “and at large by addressing and celebrating the diversity of our history, environment, and communities, and teaching even the youngest among us that this is a rich tapestry woven which makes our lives more vibrant and stronger for both our differences and those things we hold the same.”

Olympia Kids’ Programs Support Development

All of our lives intertwine and that’s exactly what builds strong individuals, families and communities. King and the other members of the Child Care Action Council understand that even the little things—like taking a walk together on a sunny day or after supper—mean the world to our children.

Peace Peath painted on sidewalk
Along the way, walkers can scan QR codes which link to games, trivia and so much more. Photo courtesy: Child Care Action Council

“The Sense of Place Walk will allow community members and visitors to learn about the diverse make up of our community and provide reflection on the natural, cultural and built environments around us,” explains King. “The walk allows participation regardless of age or ability, as each marker will offer a variety of activities, lessons and/or concepts to ponder. Those enjoying any measure of the walk, will feel invited to be a part of the neighborhood make up and understand the importance of every role each of us plays in the fabric of our unique area of the world. We are excited to bring this pilot program to Garfield Elementary and the Olympia area. We hope this will be the first of many.”

Parents can find resources like early learning centers, literacy help, STEM information and details on play groups thanks to the CCAC. For childcare providers, there is info on professional development and classes, COVID-19 resources and a child care job board just to name a few. Since 1987, this group of parents, employers, childcare professionals, school and government representatives and community members has worked to keep children the focus and reduce inequities in their care. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Get Involved with Child Care Action Council

a child and two adults on the Sense of Place Walk
The Child Care Action Council hopes this is the first of many walking paths like these to bring the community together. Photo courtesy: Child Care Action Council

Want to help at the next CCAC event? Simply enroll as a volunteer and let them know the type of activities you prefer and ideal timeframe within your schedule. Sign up for their newsletter to find out about all their upcoming activities throughout Thurston County. You can also donate on a one-time or monthly basis to support projects galore for kids of all ages.

Finding a sense of place isn’t easy, especially when you’re growing up. But one sure method of success is to surround yourself with beauty, art, caring people and little things that make you smile throughout the day. Next time you have a few free minutes, consider taking an afternoon stroll with the ones you love through the Sense of Place walk at Garfield Elementary. Togetherness, nature, activities and sunshine are a sure-fire win/win for all ages.

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