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Librarian’s playhouse on wheels brings fun, learning to kids

May 4, 2019

HOUMA, La. (AP) — Getting children to go somewhere educational can be a challenge, even when there is also fun involved. So, why not bring the education to them?

That’s the idea behind Houma’s Kids in Motion Playhouse Discovery Mobile Museum, the brainchild and labor of love of Wendy Jeffcoat.

Jeffcoat, a librarian at Lisa Park Elementary, took the first steps forward in 2009 after visiting T.R.E.E. House Museum — short for The Rapides Exploratory Educational House — in Alexandria.

“I went into the building and I looked around, and I had goosebumps on my arms,” Jeffcoat said. “I said, ‘Why can’t we do this where we live?’ It was quaint, it was little, it was pleasant and it was a nice learning experience for the kids. As a teacher, that’s something we always look for.”

Jeffcoat’s attempts to find a suitable venue for her vision proved fruitless, so she took a page from her day job, in which she wheeled books around to the different rooms in the old East Houma Elementary.

Now, she “wheels” a wide variety of fun and educational activities to events all over the area.

“We have crafts, we have games, we have hands-on learning of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) stuff,” she said. “We have an exhibit where the kids are at a pet store and they’re taking care of the animals. We have another one, a kitchen exhibit, where kids pretend they’re grocery shopping or they’re the checkout clerk.”

When Jeffcoat started out, she had planned to be “mobile” only long enough to raise the money necessary to procure a building and create a more traditional museum environment.

But plans change.

“One day, one of my benefactors said, ‘Maybe God doesn’t want you to have a building; maybe he likes that you go out and can get to the kids and do more,’” Jeffcoat said.

So now the goal is to get what Jeffcoat calls a “mobile building,” a vehicle of some sort that she can outfit and take to more places than she can manage today.

“What we bring around is a lot at times,” she said.

Kids in Motion Playhouse Discovery Mobile Museum is also known as Kim’s Playhouse — the website is www.kimsdiscoveryplayhouse.org . The short form is not only an acronym for the first three words in the nonprofit endeavor’s name, but a tribute to a lost sibling.

Jeffcoat’s sister Kim Duplantis died in infancy, but her memory lives on in Jeffcoat’s work to this day.

“Kim missed out on all the experiences and play that my own two children have been able to have,” Jeffcoat said. “This museum is dedicated to my parents in her memory and to the promise that all children, young and old, deserve to express their inner child.”

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Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com