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Area First Steps to use $200K grant on cultural activites for kids

Children's Museum of the Lowcountry (copy)

Campers at the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry watch a puppet show put on by other campers Thursday, August 20, 2020. First Steps organizations in Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston counties hope to help more kids experience the museum and similar cultural activities through the organizations' Tri-County Play Collaborative initiative.

First Steps organizations in Berkeley and Dorchester counties have received a nearly $200,000 grant to support an initiative to expose toddlers and young children to cultural institutions.

South Carolina First Steps gave First Steps in Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston counties $198,000 after the three organizations collaborated on the Tri-County Play Collaborative initiative, according to a Berkeley County First Steps press release. The three agencies work together to help families of all economic backgrounds prepare their children for school. The initiative brings together the organizations and the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry, local libraries and other cultural institutions to facilitate low cost trips for those families to museums, libraries, theaters, aquariums, historical sites and nature centers.

“It will allow us to engage young children and their caregivers in imaginative and exciting ways,” said Adrienne Troy-Frazier, executive director of Berkeley County First Steps, in the release. “We believe that art, when made accessible and relatable, has the power to heal and strengthen families in our community. This funding comes at a time when it’s most needed.”

Crystal Campbell, executive director of Dorchester County First Steps, agreed.

“Dolly Parton has said that if you want the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain,” she said in the release. “During this pandemic, Dorchester County First Steps has experienced a great deal of ‘rain’ as we worked to prepare children ages birth to five for school success. This grant is definitely a rainbow. It will enable us to join forces even more powerfully with Berkeley County First Steps and Charleston County First Steps to make sure all our families have the opportunity to experience the rich cultural activities and events in our region like never before.”

More than half the grant funding comes from private donations and the state income tax checkoff program, which allows taxpayers to contribute to First Steps on their state income tax form, the release says.

For more information on the initiative, visit facebook.com/tricountyplaycollaborative and instagram.com/tricountyplaycollaborative.