‘Walking Into a Storybook’: Chateaux De Lumiere aims to create multi-sensory museum in county
By Haley Schichtl
Kelia Lumiere is the face behind the nonprofit Chateaux De Lumiere and its efforts to start a Discovery Museum of Fairytales, Legends and Lore in Carroll County.
The nonprofit has been raising money for about a year to begin the museum, and has also been running an after-school program, including the Tabletop Warriors and Makerspace, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays at the Berryville Community Center.
The museum would be multi-sensory, meaning people can interact with the space in a way that they choose, with the option for different levels and types of sensory stimulation.
“We have been running the after-school program for over a year now for many reasons,” Lumiere said. “One, to determine what will really work here in the area, as well as trying to get community involvement.”
Lumiere said the number of participants in the after-school program varies week to week. The program normally has between 30 and 50 kids, and sometimes parents join too. Most of the kids come from Berryville, but kids around the county are invited.
“We have several different programs that run at the same time…. Makerspace is a place of imagination where they can do hands-on activities, like painting or sewing,” Lumiere said. “And we have the gaming area, where they come in and play different kinds of hands-on activities…. We do Konflikt, Nerf Wars and R.C. Racing.”
Lumiere also brings sandwiches, snacks and candy, and she said making sure none of the children go hungry has become a big priority.
Two Berryville students, Bailee Allison and Izzy Yeager, said they have been coming to the program every week. Their favorite activities are playing with moon sand and playing the card game Magic: The Gathering.
“My favorite activity is going upstairs and sewing,” said another regular at the program, Gracelin Straley. “Except for on the third Tuesday of the month, we have a Nerf War.”
Straley and her friend Taylor Nichols both try to earn stars from the program. Nichols said she has 11 stars, and Straley said she lost track.
“If you help out or volunteer, she’ll give you a star. … You can help clean up or set up,” Straley said. “Whoever has the most stars at the end of the month gets a prize.”
Lumiere said she has had an office space with a multi-sensory environment, so she has seen firsthand how it can help people.
“I’ve worked with children with learning disabilities, ADHD and autism. I’ve worked with senior citizens that had coronary artery issues … people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s disease,” Lumiere said. “Instead of on a level that was limited to people that could afford it, I wanted to make it a place where everyone can go.”
She said her current goal, as far as the museum goes, is to create a sample museum to see how people respond to it, and which aspects they’re interested or not interested in.
“When we build the facility, it’ll be like walking into a storybook. It’ll be an enrichment for our youth, to give them a place to go and encourage them in education, as well as a place for older people — it’ll be a multi-sensory environment, which is helpful for people with Alzheimer’s, autism, the whole gamut of neurological deficits.”
Chateaux De Lumiere will be selling food at the Home Expo & Garden Show from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at the Community Center to help raise money for the museum. They will be selling homemade meals and snacks such as homemade Greek bread sandwiches, breakfast burritos, spaghetti bread sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, biscuits and gravy and more.
Lumiere accepts donations for the museums and volunteers for the program. For more information on the museum or the after-school program, visit Chateaux De Lumiere Discovery Museum of Fairytales, Legends and Lore on Facebook.