Children’s Museum of the East End seeks home in Riverside

As families shuffled their young children out the door, Siris Barrios and her team at Riverside Rediscovered packed away colorful small chairs, took apart yellow kiddie tables and swept Goldfish crackers from the floor as they transformed the space from a children’s playroom back into an office.

It’s a scene that unfolds Tuesday nights at the conclusion of each installment of a program called “CMEE on Wheels,” during which representatives of the Children’s Museum of the East End come to Riverside to run various activities for local children. The program runs through Nov. 22.

The Bridgehampton museum has had a presence in Riverside for about two years, but Riverside Rediscovered is pushing to give it a permanent second home there, specifically eyeing a spot at Ludlam Avenue Park.

“We would love to see CMEE in a permanent location where they can run more programing on a daily basis,” said Ms. Barrios, a community liaison for the redevelopment effort. “There are a lot of studies that show that children’s outcomes are impacted by early childhood development programs like the one that CMEE offers.”

At last week’s meeting of the Flanders Riverside and Northampton Community Association, Ms. Barrios and association president Ron Fisher talked about the possibility of using some of a $250,000 grant to build a facility for CMEE at the park. Mr. Fisher said such a facility would cost about $100,000 and noted that some other plans for the park would need to be scaled back. The grant is funded through a portion of the state budget designated for a community project.

Ms. Barrios said she hopes elected officials can push for landing CMEE a permanent home in Riverside.

“In a place like Riverside that is the most economically depressed hamlet in all of Suffolk County this is much needed and of much benefit to this community and it will have a long life impact to the people of this community,” she said.

Liz Bard, an educational coordinator with the museum, said that if there were a space for them in Riverside, they would take advantage of that opportunity.

“We would love to have a permanent home in Riverside and be here all of the time and be able to work with families as often as possible,” she said.

Ms. Bard, who has been coming to Riverside to run the museum programs, said there was a need in the community and she thinks “CMEE on Wheels” helps families and children in the area to connect.

“A couple of kids have met in the program and then when they start kindergarten they have a friend on the bus and know each other and it’s really able to create a sense of community among the families in the area,” she said. The programs can be art- or science-based and usually run for an hour, starting off with a book, followed by an activity and ending with dancing.

While the current program, designed for children ages 2 through 5, runs until just before Thanksgiving, Ms. Barrios said she hopes to expand CMEE’s presence soon. With a home in Riverside, the museum could offer a wider variety of programs catering to different age groups.

“The sooner the better,” she said. “We’ve had so much success and we know this will continue to have a positive impact.”

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