Truckee group receives Prop. 10 grant money for Kids Zone |

Truckee group receives Prop. 10 grant money for Kids Zone

The Family Action Coalition of Truckee (FACT) received an $82,500 grant last week to begin work on an indoor play area, museum and family resource center, The Kids Zone.

It was the largest grant awarded by the Nevada County Children and Families First Commission, which awarded a total of $380,000 in Proposition 10 funds for 19 projects countywide that benefit children ages 0 through 5.

Proposition 10, passed by California voters in November 1998, gives Nevada County approximately $850,000 a year by placing a 50-cent tax on every pack of cigarettes sold in the state. The funds are specifically earmarked to benefit children ages 0-5.

“I’m incredibly excited we got this,” said Phebe Bell, director of the Children’s Collaborative of Tahoe-Truckee. “I think it really reflects the collaborative spirit that is prevailing up here now. It’s really a testament for the capacity of this community to come together for our children.”

Funding for The Kids Zone is the result of a collaborative effort between many public and private agencies as well as parents and other community members, Bell said.

“All of us have come together to do something meaningful for the children in our community,” she said. “It is truly the result of community vision and passion – translated through the work of many volunteers and partners.”

The Children’s Collaborative is the sponsoring agency for The Kids Zone, which also includes partnerships with the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District, the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District, and the Sierra Nevada Children’s Museum.

FACT is currently looking into the feasibility of housing the Kids Zone in a 3,600-square foot tension structure in space next to the teen center on TTUSD property (between Sierra Mountain Middle School and Tahoe-Truckee High School). The proposed structure would be rectangle-shaped, consist of a concrete base, with a pitched roof, steel trusses and PVC-coated vinyl that stretches over the top, according Katherine Lucas, a member of the coalition that is helping to research potential structures.

“This structure will be specifically engineered for our spot in Truckee,” Lucas said. The structure used for The Kids Zone would have to meet the appropriate snow load and wind standards.

The structure would house an indoor playground area with a section just for infants, the Sierra Nevada Children’s Museum and it’s interactive exhibits as well as a family resource center, where families can get information on different parenting topics and community services available.

The structure would include an insulation pack and heating system, Lucas said. The ends of the building would have an end wall retractable curtain system, which could be opened in the spring and summer in nice weather.

The entire project is estimated to cost approximately $250,000. The structure is considered temporary, and collaborative agencies have their sights on a larger, permanent community center in the future.

The building will be owned by the TDRPD, and managed by the children’s museum, according to Ruth Hall, executive director of Sierra Nevada Children’s Services. The family resource center will be funded by the 21st Century Learning Grant, and a family advocate will be hired to staff the space and be on site to help families.

Sierra Nevada Children’s Museum is currently squeezed into a 1,200-square foot space in the Donner Center. In the proposed Kids Zone, the museum will occupy approximately 2,000 square feet, and an infant/toddler play area will be part of the play zone.

“We’re all pretty excited,” said Cindy Wood, who is both the chair of FACT and site acquisitions director and business consultant for SNCM. “Getting into a brighter, larger location is and will still be our focus. We’re just not able to do everything we want to do in our current location.”

The opportunity to expand will allow the museum to provide better-rounded exhibits and interactive activities with computers, health and the sciences. Wood said the new space will also allow the museum to expand birthday party and classroom facilities.

Laurie Martin, director of Community and Youth Development for TTUSD and a Nevada County Children and Families First commissioner, said the commission was extremely supportive of the collaborative mission and partnerships in Truckee.

“As a commissioner, I was pleased with the process and the outcome,” Martin said. “We are funding a broad spectrum of activities in this county. I felt like Truckee was very well-represented. It was great to see we could move forward and get the funding to see things happen in this county. The process was pretty amazing.”

Other grants awarded to the Truckee area include a $6,600 grant to the Luke Schaffner Memorial Foundation for Children’s Safety Day in Truckee and a $5,000 grant to Tahoe Women’s Services for a children’s counseling program. A $59,956 grant was awarded to the Nevada County Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery Program towards a chemical dependency treatment facility for pregnant women, which will be available to women in Truckee.

The commission evaluated nearly $2 million worth of proposals submitted by persons and organizations with ideas to improve development of the county’s youngest residents. According to Jean Soliz, Children and Families First Commission Director, Nevada County was the first county in the state to allocate Prop. 10 funds.

“These awards are the first in a series of investments targeted toward the most critical developmental period in a child’s life,” said Nevada County Supervisor and Chair of the Children and Families First Commission Bruce Conklin in a press releases issued on March 7. The Commission was created to administer Nevada County’s share of Prop. 10 funds, a projected $840,000 per year. The funds are collected through a surcharge on tobacco products.

The vision for The Kids Zone developed from a collaborative effort between Truckee agencies, children’s advocates, parents and community members who recognized the need a place to take children to play.

“It was the desire of parents in the community to get together with other kids and parents in a place where kids can develop gross motor skills,” Hall said. “There are few places for parents to go … a majority of kids have been coming into schools with low gross motor skills. Our parents who really want to see this happen have been a driving force in this.”

FACT will appoint a public relations committee, as well as fund-raising and structural committees to move forward with project plans and will be looking for volunteers to help. Lucas said they are working with the Town of Truckee Planning Commission to make sure the appropriate steps are taken in filing for a building permit with the town.

At last week’s TTUSD regular board meeting, board members unanimously directed facilities director to approve the structure if the building inspections looked good. Britto said he will go back to the board if any concerns are discovered.

“We’ll be working with the Town to ensure the what we’re putting up is safe and something we’ve done before,” Britto said. “I’m in the process of working on that now.”

The Kids Zone will be a multi-purpose family center, and those involved in the collaborative effort are excited about what resources it can offers to youth and their families in this rural and mountain community.

“A real theme for us with this is to break down the isolation for families,” Bell said. “It will help parents build town support networks.”

Martin said that will the family resource center, she hopes to reach out to families that aren’t regularly involved in community activities.

“As we proceed, we will be looking at how to engage all families,” Martin said.

The next FACT meeting is 9 a.m. on Monday, March 13 at the TDRPD Community Center located in downtown Truckee.

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