An empty old building on the grounds of the old Fairfield Hills Hospital will be turned into a sprawling $10 million, 52,000-square-foot children's museum in Newtown, which was a dream of the former Sandy Hook Elementary School principal.
In 2011, Everwonder Children's Museum President Kristin Chiriatti reached out to Dawn Hochsprung about being on the design team for the project.
"She was a very busy woman, but said she'd love to be involved," Chiriatti said.
A month ago, the planning for the children's museum stopped after Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother while she slept in her bed before going to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 20 children and six adults. He then killed himself as police entered the school.
One of those people killed was Hochsprung.
"Everything stopped," Chiriatti said. "We really needed to evaluate and deal with our own personal grieving."
As the community emerged from the haze of grief, Chiriatti said one thing became clear.
"The need is amplified now. We really need a place where our children can go," she said. "It's safe, cheerful and gets them excited about learning."
Hochsprung's daughter told Eyewitness News that she is "very happy the ball is rolling on her mother's dream."
The museum will be up to children up to the age of 12 and will feature exhibits and demonstrations as well as live performances.
All members of the Association of Children's Museums will donate to Everwonder while local members such as Kid City in Middletown will help in the planning phase - all with the hopes that this will provide an escape for children who already endured so much.
"This does not reflect the real world for them," said parent Tara Rook. "This is a children's place, where it will just be about the children."
The group will raise funds for the remainder of the year and start building next year with a goal of a 2015 opening.
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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