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Fun Factory coming to a neighborhood near you

Sign with QR code: YWCA Fun Factory meets here, Free arts and crafts for ages 5-10, Come join us

Next week, the Fun Factory team starts planning their summer activities so they’ll be ready to hit the road starting Monday, June 24.

Kiley, David, Eva, and Lindsay love to play and create! Their mission this summer is to find a few hundred kids to join them for an hour of crafts and other activities.

Where can you find the Fun Factory team?

They’ll be all over the valley with stops in Touchet and Prescott, Waitsburg and Dayton, even going all the way to Starbuck by request.

You can find them around Walla Walla visiting Camp Fire, UPlay at Washington Park, YWCA, YMCA plus a handful of neighborhoods with play areas. Kids in summer school won’t miss out either, because Fun Factory includes several sites including Valle Lindo, Inspire Preschool, Vista Hermosa, and Sharpstein School.

Visit Fun Factory on our website to see this summer’s schedule.

Fun Factory: Your gifts kept our van rolling

Ethan Dolph, Ana Rubie, and Caitlyn Rolfe shared summer crafts in parks and neighborhoods throughout the Walla Walla Valley, thanks to your YWCA support.

After COVID crushed our 2020 plans, we were pretty excited about having the YWCA Fun Factory back.

However, this summer was hardly business as usual.

Several neighboring communities were experiencing virus resurgence that kept kids indoors. Here in Walla Walla, parks were emptier than usual with so many kids taking part in the important Walla Walla Public Schools accelerated learning program, Summer Sol.

While the numbers may not have been as high as previous years, it was great to be offering something for kids who might otherwise have slipped through the activity cracks.

Van driver Ethan Dolph said, “We knocked on doors and tacked up dozens of notes around some of our quieter stops. It was a really great feeling when after a couple of weeks of consistently showing up, we’d finally connect with the kids.”

Just when participation seemed to be gaining momentum, the team had a new challenge: Should they be trying to entice children outdoors in record-setting temperatures? Or on days with risky air quality?

They acquired spray bottles and added N95s to their masking options, and they gained special appreciation for the indoor stops.

Next year might not bring cooler temperatures or cleaner air (though we can always hope), but Ana, Caitlyn, and Ethan did come up with some new strategies and schedule adjustments to help 2022 be even more successful.

You sent 2019 Fun Factory team out for another fun summer

The 2019 Fun Factory team launched their summer with the June 2 Park­ways event and the June ​13​ Birch Street Bash.

THE 2019 TEAM. Mady Burnett is a Whitman College senior and a skilled basketball player. In fact, she missed a few days this summer when she was selected to play for the USA D3 national team in Brazil.

Becca Inskeep, an abstract artist from Indiana, completed a year at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., before transferring to Whitman to complete her art degree. Some might consider her overqualified to do crafts with 5-year-olds, but we think she’s perfect.

Maeve McCracken, 2019 Whitman graduate, was a YWCA sexual assault intern for two years. YWCA was happy to give her an excuse to stay in town for another couple of months.

Erin Prewitt, from New Jersey, is in town visiting her aunts this summer. She applied for Fun Factory after her aunts heard about the job from Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, Executive Director, and assumed (correctly) that Erin would be a great fit.

“We’re so lucky to have these wonderful can-do young women on staff!” wrote Anne-Marie.

IT’S THE BEST JOB. “I love how excited kids get when we pull up in the van!” said Erin. “In some of the more remote areas, you can tell they don’t have a lot going on or a lot of access to art supplies. They are so happy to see all the colors come out of our bags.“

“Our team works well together,” said Becca, “because we have really different strengths. Erin is great with the artists who have something specific in mind and need help transferring those ideas to their art. Maeve is excellent at giving clear instructions for different age groups so that everyone understands. Mady is able to bond with the kids and keep up friendly conversations with them, and if they get restless, she pulls out her basketball skills and challenges the kids to a game. I enjoy helping out the children who are feeling anxious and stressed about their craft.”
Stops this summer included Prescott, College Place, and Dayton as well as many sites in Walla Walla, including the VA grounds.

“Anne-Marie said we’d form relationships with the kids. I wasn’t sure it was possible in short weekly visits,” said Becca. “But she was right!”