Greentrike, the nonprofit organization with the mission to honor children and champion play, celebrates its second anniversary this week.  Greentrike spent the past year pedaling through difficult unfamiliar terrain while reaching huge milestones of learning and growth. During year two, Greentrike emerged from the pandemic by opening a second museum, reviving operations, and launching programs for children, youth, and families.

It was during the Power of Play Lunch two years ago that the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, founded in 1985, transitioned to Greentrike. The growth of programs focused on children, youth, and families drove the transition. Greentrike is now the parent organization for the Children’s Museums of Tacoma and at JBLM while serving the community through outreach programming, advocacy, preschool programming, and expanded learning opportunities in our k-5 schools.

The past year was full of change brought on by the pandemic and like most organizations, Greentrike was not immune to the effects of the global disruption. In order to continue their mission of honoring children, Greentrike adapted by closing their Museum to the public. Most programming went into hibernation, became virtual, or shuttered permanently. The challenges Greentrike faced were difficult and prompted the organization to reflect on its core values in order to prioritize its continued work in the community.

“We kept commitment to access at the core, and made sure that Greentrike remained vital and could withstand the impacts of shuttering programming for over one year,” said Tanya Durand, Executive Director of Greentrike. Tanya added, “And despite the challenges we all faced, ambition guided by community-need remained front and center.”

Greentrike adapted to the circumstances by hosting a virtual Right to Play Gala. Going virtual was a new frontier for Greentrike’s Gala but a necessary step to ensure the health of participants amid the height of the pandemic. Participants live streamed activities, speeches, and toured Greentrike’s new museum.

Greentrike’s ambition and focus on the community led to the creation of the organization’s second museum, a site visited by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in March of 2021.

The Children’s Museum at JBLM, the first children’s museum on a military installation, began welcoming families to play on April 24, 2021. Joint Base Lewis-McChord has one of the largest military family populations in the nation which made it a natural choice for the home of Greentrike’s second museum. The Children’s Museum at JBLM is community funded through corporate, foundation, and individual donations, including Pay As You Will Admission, a donation-based admission model that keeps the Museum accessible for every family in the community.

“It is a beautiful and inspiring place for military families to spend time in and build community,” expressed April Shine, whose family has been a part of the JBLM community for almost ten years.

Since its inception in April 2021, over 11,000 people have visited to learn, play, and create at the Children’s Museum at JBLM.  Most visitors to the Museum have been from families connected to the Army and the Air Force. Visitors from the Navy, National Guard, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps have also explored the Museum.

Operations at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma resumed in May of 2021 with a limited reservation system. The Museum transitioned to be fully open without reservations by the end of June, and with safety being top of mind, all guests are still required to wear masks while visiting.

Since reopening, the Children’s Museums of Tacoma and at JBLM have welcomed over 24,000 visitors in 2021. A visitor count made more significant considering that both Museums remained closed for almost half of the year with limited capacity at times due to pandemic restrictions.

Greentrike reached a major milestone in learning in 2021 when the organization began the Out-of-School Time Intermediary (OSTI) for Tacoma, an effort to ensure all children, youth, and families in Pierce County will have equitable access to culturally responsive, play-based, and enriching Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO). Greentrike formed partnerships with Tacoma Public Schools (TPS), and Metro Parks to source and connect ELO providers with TPS families. Beyond the Bell, the rebranded ELO program serving TPS students and organized by Greentrike, launched at 24 elementary schools across the district in September and is providing afterschool enrichment to students in arts, culture, sports, and more.

On September 2, Greentrike OSTI hosted an event centered in downtown Tacoma to celebrate the start of school, introduce families to ELO providers, and distribute school supplies to families in need. During the Back to School Kickoff, Greentrike gave away over 800 backpacks with school supplies to over 800 adults, children, and youth. The Kickoff included 40 participating businesses, vendors, and ELO program providers. Pierce Transit donated 200 bus passes to aid families to travel to the event.

In September 2021, Greentrike brought back in-person sessions of Play to Learn. The community favorite play-based program returned to five sites across Pierce County. Currently, the program is at a reduced limited capacity with plans to expand in the near future.

Finally, the event that announced the beginnings of Greentrike, the Power of Play Lunch took place virtually with a mix of live and pre-recorded segments. The lunch featured Greentrike and TPS leadership as they discussed expanded learning opportunities for the community.

Greenktrike’s second year was a time of growth through intentional focus on their mission, values, and community impact. In 2021, Greentrike expanded operations to a second new museum, integrated OSTI into the organization, and relaunched community programs and events. Greentrike is excited about the opportunities in the year ahead as the organization pedals toward its mission to honor children and champion play.