NORWALK — Hundreds of families were already enjoying the state’s Summer at the Museum initiative at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children on Monday when Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz visited to promote the summer enrichment program.

Preparing to take the stage, Bysiewicz took a moment to visit parents and children in the celebration courtyard where children splashed in the water, built castles in the sand tables and built forts with big blue blocks.

“It’s incredibly valuable because look how many people have taken advantage of this opportunity to learn, play, make new friends. Learning about social and emotional development is happening before our eyes,” Bysiewicz told parents, volunteers and staff gathered in the celebration courtyard.

As part of the program, Stepping Stones welcomes Connecticut children free on Mondays with an accompanying caregiver until Labor Day. The children’s museum also hosts free Friday fun nights from 5-8 p.m. on August 5 and September 2.

The museum is open Monday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Governor Ned Lamont launched the Summer at the Museum initiative last year in response to the pandemic to engage more children in summer enrichment and learning experiences. The program is funded by a $15 million investment in federal COVID-19 recovery funding that Connecticut received from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The program is administered by the Office of Arts and Humanities of the State Department of Economic and Community Development in partnership with the Office of the Governor, Connecticut State Department of Education, Office of Early Childhood Childhood and the Tourism Bureau.

“It’s wonderful to know how much our state supports us,” said Rhonda Kiest, president and CEO of the Stepping Stones Museum for Children.

More than 130 museums across the state are participating in the initiative, including historic house museums, historic sites, historical societies, art museums, children’s museums, science centers, museums of special interest, natural history museums, university museums, arboretums and botanical gardens and zoos.

The Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk Seaport Association, Norwalk Historical Society and Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum are also participating. Some locations may require visitors to purchase tickets in advance.

“It’s an amazing program that allows young people to, as you see, have fun and participate in really healthy activities,” said Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling. “There’s so much to do in Norwalk…there are so many opportunities to take advantage of this program.”

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