Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Children's Museum for Downtown Cary

So this post doesn't really have anything to do with middle schoolers.  It has to do with my community, Cary NC, and providing services for younger children.  If you are only focused on middle schoolers, please check out the archives or come back tomorrow.

However, for those of you who live in Cary....I attended an exciting event tonight.  It was the first public fundraiser for a proposed Children's Museum in downtown Cary.  It was sponsored by the downtown Cary  nonprofit, The Heart of Cary Association.  

The goal of the fundraiser was to, of course, raise money, but also to introduce to the town of Cary this concept of having a "world class" Children's Museum in downtown Cary (that is, located close to such other facilities as the new Cary Arts Center, Cary Town Hall, Cary Community Center, Cary Library, and the Cary Page-Walker History and Arts Center).  A particular focus of this Children's Museum will be to connect to and utilize the incredible educational and research resources available in the Research Triangle to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities and education among area toddlers and school-age children.

Of course, Children's Museums are typically not aimed towards children who are in middle school, as my only child is.  So why should I (or you, at least if you live in Cary and only have middle schoolers) care?  First, I care about the other children in our community.  Anything we can do to present educational topics in fun, hands-on ways is, I think, a good thing.  We have certainly benefited from the many children's museums we visited in multiple states when my son was younger, and would like to pay forward the work of others who created those for us.  Also, I think this is another great way to build community, especially among the downtown neighborhood where we live.  I think downtown Cary has been gaining some momentum lately, especially given the opening of the new Cary Arts Center, and I think this will definitely help cement our gains.

Finally, tonight was a fun event.  I've been writing lately about going to the symphony and a jazz concert in Cary, but tonight's concert was fairly hard rock by a Cary band called SHMaK.  As the lead singer said, "This is probably the only time the song 'Helter Skelter' has been performed publicly in downtown Cary."  But they were really great, and played lots of songs that brought back memories.  One that hit me particularly was a song called "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone."  So I'm showing my age, but when I heard that, I thought "Monkees."  And, indeed, when I got home and checked Wikipedia, the Monkees had performed that song when I was a wee-ish child.  (Just as an aside---isn't it amazing to be able to remember a song that you haven't heard or even thought of in decades?)

But besides the band, many of the shops in Ashworth Village in downtown Cary stayed open late, and food and "adult beverage" vendors donated all profits from sales to the museum.  The Ashworths themselves--Ralph and Daphne, who own the old-fashioned Ashworth Pharmacy and created Ashworth Village--were peddling popcorn to raise money.  I don't know how much money was raised, but it was a great display of community.

If you are interested in following progress of the Cary Children's Museum, or would like to volunteer or donate to the effort, check out their website at

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