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INK's family day puts priority on play

Volunteers educate children, help strengthen relationships

POSTED: November 23, 2007 5:03 a.m.
In honor of National Family Week, Gainesville’s Interactive Neighborhood for Kids opened its doors Sunday afternoon to dozens of local families for a special Honoring Families Celebration.

The celebration featured a variety of family-oriented events such as a magic show, face painting, pottery painting and a live reading of a Dr. Seuss book from State Rep. Doug Collins.

The event was specifically aimed at honoring people and organizations that place a high priority on family, said Bob Cain, a retired family life minister.

"Why not honor people in business who honor families?" Cain said.

The goal was to spread the word of strengthening the family unit by spending time with your kids, setting boundaries and giving unconditional love, he said.

"A key word is priority," he said. "Is your family important or is your family a priority? Those are two different questions."

In addition to the myriad activities, the afternoon featured child safety and protection demonstrations as well as an award ceremony in which Collins presented plaques to those nominated for honoring the family.

Pulling off such an event required many volunteers, including INK’s board of directors.

Chairwoman Phillippa Lewis Moss and marketing director Dana Miller gave tours of the facility to newcomers and oversaw all activities.

"It’s touching to see children from various neighborhoods come together and play for the sheer joy of playing," Moss said. "It’s the simplicity in playing. ... What better thing can you offer a child?"

However, INK’s goal is more than just playing. According to the company’s Web site, INK is a "non-profit organization ... whose mission is to encourage children of all ages to develop their full potential through exciting, hands-on learning."

This goal is accomplished primarily through an interactive museum that serves as a play place where kids mimic day to day tasks such as grocery shopping, visiting the post office and stopping at a cafe for lunch.

In the coming months, INK will be adding airplane and body exhibits and a new parent-teacher resource room.

The body exhibit will feature a giant boy to show the human organs and kiosks displaying information on childhood diabetes, obesity and nutrition.

Sunday’s expanded fare was organized by INK founder, Sherri Hooper.

Hooper said the celebration was a great success, drawing diversity in age, race and faith. And while the Honoring Families Celebration was the first of its kind for INK, Hooper plans for the even to become an annual staple.



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