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New Missoula program finds innovative ways to educate families while having fun

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MISSOULA, Mont. - When it comes to learning it doesn't have to be boring. Empower Place is a program where families can learn and play together for free.

The new program launched in May and is located inside the Missoula Food Bank. The program is a partnership between the University of Montana Spectrum Discovery Area, the Missoula Food Bank and the Missoula Public Library.

Director Jessica Allred is all about helping kids reach their full potential and most importantly breaking down barriers.

"Break down those barriers to access for kids who might not otherwise have access to those learning opportunities," said Allred.

There are seven learning stations and several activities that involve math, science and English.

One exhibit that is popular with the kids is the ball wall. That's where kids can learn about engineering and how things work together.

Newcomer Karly Jackson visited the program with her son, Maverick, and feels there should be more activities like this.

"I love it, and I don't think that there are enough educational fun things in Missoula," said Jackson.

Dr. Amanda Duley works at Empower Place as the staff scientist and loves the reaction on kids' faces.

"I just love seeing the kids figure things out on their own, especially on the ball wall," said Duley. "It's just really enjoyable, and the people that work and volunteer here will look at each other and smile."

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Empower Place is funded through the City of Missoula Redevelopment Agency and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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