By Sementha Mathews, Turner Center for the Arts
VALDOSTA, Georgia – There’s a new sign up on the corner of Webster and N. Ashley Streets in Valdosta that reads: “Future Home of the Meta Shaw Coleman Children’s Imagination Station.” The sign marks an exciting expansion in the life of the arts in the Valdosta-Lowndes County community, particularly on the growing campus of the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts.
The Turner Center plans to break ground on this 10,000 sq. ft. community resource at 512 N. Ashley Street in summer 2023. This regionally-serving facility will allow youth the opportunities to explore STEAM-based disciplines and careers in science, technology, engineering, art, and math for an innovative and fun learning experience that will help grow area children into the leaders of tomorrow.
“The Children’s Imagination Station complements more than three dozen creative programs offered in the other four facilities on our Campus, providing interconnectivity between those programs and serving every age in the family,” said Executive Director Sementha Mathews. “The Lowndes-Valdosta Arts Commission Board of Directors and the Turner Center Staff are particularly excited about this new facility that will stretch the creativity in young minds and inspire young people to consider countless STEAM career paths.”
The Children’s Imagination Station is named after lifelong educator Meta Shaw Coleman, an early childhood educator who founded and operated a nursery school. The purchase of the Children’s Imagination Station property was made possible by a generous donation from Dan and Carolyn Coleman, in memory of Dan’s mother. Meta helped launch Valdosta’s Head Start Program and later taught at various Valdosta City Elementary Schools, Valwood School, and Wiregrass Technical College. She is remembered for her service to many local organizations and boards to advance the quality of education and life in our community.
“We are currently seeking partnerships with the business, education, agriculture, healthcare, military, and government sectors to help excite our young people about their community and state and, therefore, encourage our youth to become successful working adults who are proud to call South Georgia home,” said Courtney Gooding, LVAC board member and Chair of the Children’s Imagination Station Committee. “Our committee has worked with a national firm for nearly a year in order to bring our community this impressive project, of which we can all be proud.”
Conceptual designs of the Children’s Imagination Station may be viewed at www.turnercenter.org, by clicking Support, and scrolling to the Children’s Imagination Station page, where people may keep up with the building and fundraising progress. On this page, interested individuals and organizations may also pledge their support and choose to have their engraved family or company name proudly displayed forever by the exhibit of their choice.
“We are grateful for the generous families and organizations who have already allowed us to reach the halfway mark of this $6 million campaign,” said Evelyn Langdale, LVAC Board member and Fundraising Chair. “These individuals believe in our region, our children, and see the potential for educating and inspiring our future workforce. We are available to present the overall plan of the Imagination Station to anyone interested in being a part of this innovative project.”
The Children’s Imagination Station will also accept donations of solar panels, concrete, labor, furnishings, and other building materials in exchange for naming opportunities.
Individuals who make monetary gifts of $250 or more by March 30 will be entered into a drawing to receive a $5,000 commissioned portrait donated by local artist Fay Bridges Hyatt. The winner of the drawing will receive a professionally framed 24” x 30” commissioned work of his or her choosing, scheduling the work directly with the artist. Hyatt is the owner of Kaleidoscope gallery & emporium, located in Downtown Valdosta.
For more information, click HERE or call 229-247-2787.