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NAPLES, Florida (February 22, 2023) – The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (CMON) and Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) are concluding the third installment of their co-created Shine On workshops, which began in January. This session includes a partnership with teachers and students from Child’s Path early learning centers and will continue with their fourth installment starting on March 22, 2023.

The six-week program, hosted inside the children’s museum’s exhibits, helps children build vital communications skills, develop confidence and self-esteem, build resilience through problem-solving and impulse control, and make healthy life choices. Master’s-level interns in FGCU’s clinical mental health counseling program along with their licensed program supervisor led the preschoolers from Child’s Path during each session, giving both parties valuable learning opportunities.

“CMON is honored to host this robust educational partnership,” said CMON’s Chief Operations and Education Officer, Bonnie Thayer. “Our exhibits provide creative and imaginative spaces for the FGCU interns to practice guiding Child’s Path students. It’s a unique opportunity for CMON to support the success of Master’s-level interns all at the same time, and we are proud to be a part of it!”

Shine On workshops at the children’s museum began in 2021 when leadership at CMON and instructors in FGCU’s clinical mental health counseling program noticed a need for small-group programming for young children who may not have been properly socialized due to the overlap of the COVID-19 pandemic with children’s foundational developmental periods.

“As a teacher, this was an amazing experience to share with children after having been separated from other children and adults,” said a Child’s Path teacher. “[The Shine On program] was a great opportunity to watch them grow and strengthen skills that they didn’t get a chance to use due to the Pandemic.”

Workshops are held on Wednesdays when the museum is closed to the public. This gives Shine On clinicians and participants the unique experience of having the full museum to themselves for the children to interact with both the exhibits and the clinicians in helping to develop the children’s foundational life skills. Creating an interdisciplinary mentorship relationship between the Child’s Path preschoolers and the FGCU interns, Shine On promotes self-advocacy, identifying feelings, and making healthy choices all in CMON’s play-based learning environment.

“We are thankful for this wonderful opportunity for my Spanish-speaking child to be fully immersed with other children learning English and building strong social skills especially having been separated from others during COVID,” shared a Child’s Path parent.

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