DALTON – About two miles east of the village, just off Lincoln Way East, is a white building across from the Dutch Kitchen car park.
This 44,000 square foot structure with its empty interior might not look like much, but Lori Colon and Delight Howells are thrilled to see it transform into Wayne County Kids STEAM Play Lab.
Colon, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Playlab, joined Howells, the director of LincWay, in 2019 when they both had the idea of creating a children’s museum and began their journey to make it a reality. .
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Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the pair say construction is progressing well and hope to open parts of the building this fall. With more funding needed to achieve their goals and plenty of work to do, Colon and Howells are optimistic and can’t wait to see it all fall into place.
Playlab is taking shape slowly but surely
Since the inauguration last summermost floors and walls have been completed in the Playlab and LincWay spaces, but shipping delays have pushed the planned summer opening of some LincWay spaces to early fall, Howells said.
For example, she says, there was a delay in receiving a drive-thru window for coffee. By September or October, Howells said, she hopes to open the hair salon, art studio, rental offices and community conference rooms that run along the building.
While construction of the Playlab isn’t as advanced, Colon said, the space will eventually house about 10 different interactive exhibits such as a Dino Dig, NASA Space Exploration, and Kid City with a miniature Amish house.
Colon said they plan to change the exhibits every three years, but will retain certain aspects such as the atrium space with the tree in the center surrounded by an aquarium full of fish.
The future of the museum
Once the Playlab opens, which Colon expects next summer, the space will be available to the local community and schools as well as anyone interested in visiting, including businesses planning corporate retreats.
With 33% of the roughly $7 million needed to fund the project, Colon said, she hopes to raise the rest through a new partnership program called 12/25 and a 5K and family fun day they are co-hosting. with the village of Dalton in October. More information and updates on the program and 5K can be found on Playlab’s website and Facebook page.
While there are other children’s spaces in the state, Colon and Howells hope that by undertaking this project, they can inspire others to explore creative ideas.
“Connecting people to a story is key,” Colon said. “…It gives other people aspirations to be able to say, ‘Well, if they did this, I can do this,’ and that’s really what a kids science center is all about, it’s inspire others to dream and create, explore and become something.”
Contact Rachel Karas at [email protected]
On Twitter: @RachelKaras3