Grant Highlight- Tots to Teens

It takes partners to create a healthy community for families, toddlers, and teens. Sitka Counseling, the Hope Coalition, and the city’s Parks and Recreation department are working together to provide a space for connection, movement, and growth through the Tots to Teens program, made possible by a grant from the Sitka Legacy Foundation.

At a community meeting, parents identified toddler gyms as greatly needed. Parent Tot Time provides a gathering place for parents to connect and toddlers to explore through movement and unstructured play. The grant has provided equipment and resources to operate a free toddler time for the youngest families. Eliminating fees has more than doubled attendance at tot times.

Teen open gym offers a welcoming and warm space for youth to hang out with each other and with safe adults. Open skating, basketball, volleyball, art, ping pong, and karaoke are a few of the activities on offer at these events. An unexpected outcome has been the chance for students from Sitka’s three high schools to connect. MEHS AmeriCorps volunteer Laura Cebulski made this observation:

“I see students moving their bodies; interacting and meeting new people; showing respect to themselves and each other; and laughing and smiling.”