Move-N-Learn Center

Stillwater Area Public Schools’ Early Childhood Family Center (ECFC) is now home to a new and unique learning experience. Children at the ECFC have begun using the new, custom-built “Move-N-Learn Center” an indoor play area designed to meet the ECFC’s special teaching mission of including young learners of all abilities in its programs. This play area is a collaboration between Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute’s pediatric services (Courage Kenny Kids) and Stillwater Area Public Schools.

The “Move-N-Learn Center” takes typical physical therapy equipment to teach mobility skills and molds them into a large, single structure that’s fun, motivating and educational for young children. The structure is located in a common gym space shared by all ECFC programs. It provides children with disabilities, and their peers a space to work and learn together under the guidance of their therapists and teachers in a safe, more natural environment. It includes household stairs, bus-height stairs, curbs, an ADA accessible ramp, and a steeper hill. Small play nooks, see-through floor areas, wall activity stations, murals and slides promote creative play, physical exploration and task repetition.

This structure was built using a range of community volunteers and resources.

  • The idea for the project was conceived by Physical Therapist Barb Diederichs, Courage Kenny Kids coordinator.
  • Design, construction and project oversight was done by Spike Carlsen, local carpenter, author and Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute volunteer.
  • Additional labor was provided by the Helping Hands volunteers of Trinity Lutheran Church.
  • The railings were fabricated by Career Technical Welding and Metal Fabrication students at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater.
  • Nationally-known children’s book author, Nancy Carlson, was commissioned to create a series of murals that are fun, motivational and educational.
  • Stillwater Area Public Schools Facilities Manager Tony Willger, ECFC Director Karen Manske, child safety and playground safety experts, and a variety of other volunteers from ECFC and the community have also been instrumental in bringing the project to life.

Funding for the structure was provided by Courage Kenny Foundation through a grant from CVS Caremark Charitable Trust. Funding for floor coverings, fall-safe flooring and fire sprinklers was provided by Stillwater Area Public Schools.