The Schenectady Jewish Community Center will get a new natural outdoor play space with the help of international soccer star Abby Wambach.
The center, located on Balltown Road in Niskayuna, won out over nine other finalists in MVP Health Care’s Project Go contest. Each of the 10 finalists received $2,500 grants from the health insurance company. As the winner, the JCC now has the chance to use Wambach’s star power to raise more.
Center officials were excited Monday to learn they had won, said JCC early childhood director Andrea Leighton.
“The idea is to really have a natural outdoor play space/outdoor classroom,” Leighton said. She added later, “It’s for the kids to be able to have more nature-based learning in their day, in their curriculum.”
The JCC’s project entry called for incorporating music, physics and sensory stimulation. It also would encourage children to play outdoors.
Leighton said the play space is expected to incorporate structures from recycled materials, including tire gardens.
She said it’s an opportunity for them to do something new and different.
“We’re really hoping to do a lot of things with our nature-based learning,” she said.
Exactly when the Wambach event will take place still is to be determined, though MVP officials said it will be later this year. Wambach is an endorser of MVP and is officially the company’s “wellness ambassador.”
Wambach was the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year and has helped the U.S. team go deep in the Women’s World Cup tournament and win Olympic gold medals.
More than 100 nonprofit organizations in New York and Vermont applied for the grants. The 10 finalists were picked by online voting. Nearly 100,000 votes were cast, the company said. The winner was then selected among the 10 by an outside organization.
“We’re really trying to support the different ways that not-for-profit organizations are working to make the community more healthy,” said MVP CEO Denise Gonick.
Five other Capital Region organizations also saw their projects make the top 10 and receive $2,500 grants. The other local recipients were the Rotterdam Youth Soccer Club in Rotterdam, the Capital City Rescue Mission in Albany, the Broadalbin-Perth Soccer Club in Broadalbin, Maddie’s Mark Foundation in Guilderland and the Albany Rowing Center in Albany.