Imagination Station wins national award

Activity center promotes early education

It’s educational and entertaining for children and families.

It’s fun, free, local and now nationally recognized for promoting early education and providing learning activities.

It’s called Imagination Station. And the WSRE creation has earned the National Educational Telecommunications Association award for Community Engagement Based on a Local Project.

General Manager Sandy Cesaretti Ray accepted the award last week in Dallas.

Besides being educational and entertaining, Imagination Station impressed judges for providing a safe environment for learning for children and parents who typically can’t afford the latest technology.

That Imagination Station was nationally recognized for being a valuable place to play and learn is a tremendous honor, said Jill Hubbs, WSRE’s director of educational services.

“I would be thrilled beyond words if one was established in every community,” said Hubbs. “The unique thing is that this is one of a kind, and there is no other one in the country.”

Imagination Station is free, educational and open to the public at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. It promotes early education and provides learning activities to children and families.

The activity center is chocked full of educational material made available through PBS, including books, toys and touchscreen technology loaded with PBS KIDS educational

Quint and Rishy Studer, owners of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, offered use of 1,500 square-foot space at the stadium to WSRE and Pensacola State College in 2013.

In its first year Imagination Station attracted more than 10,000 people, and it typically serves about 100 children and adults each day, Hubbs said.

WSRE Imagination Station D

Parents and oftentimes grandparents join their children, from birth up to 8 years old, to enjoy playing and learning using an array of educational resources available through PBS.

Hubbs said WSRE started the learning center to take PBS programming and its value beyond the TV screen directly to children and parents.

“It’s a place where kids can come and watch, with a big emphasis on reading,” Hubbs said. “We use a lot of apps and bring all PBS resources together to provide a great place to learn and have fun.”

Imagination Station is open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are set aside for special groups and organizations, including Head Start, Autism Pensacola, Capstone Academy, Title I schools and various literacy groups.

“We are thrilled that Imagination Station is being use this way,” Hubbs said. “It’s a place to connect, not just for WSRE, but for everybody to play and learn together.”