a Home for Sunflower

a Home for...

For Family, For Learning, For Childhood.

 The Sunflower Capital Campaign

Sunflower Creative Arts Capital Campaign 

Our goal is to fully fund Sunflower’s new home and pay down the mortgage as quickly as possible, ensuring a solid fiscal future for Sunflower and allowing for expansion of programming. We are looking for new ideas and committee members to help us reach this ambitious goal! Please let us know if you’d like to get more involved!

Children will carry what they learn in Seedlings with them throughout their lives. I highly recommend spending lots of time outside, playing in the woods, catching frogs, getting dirty; it’s the greatest way to learn what the world is really about.

Maxx Berkowitz

Seedlings alum, class of 1996

Campaign Updates

June 2017

It’s our second year in Delray, and our new home is more wonderful than we could have imagined. Your support of the Home for Sunflower campaign has made it all possible, and we can’t thank you enough!

Vegetables and sunflowers are growing like crazy in our garden; children run, play, problem-solve, mold clay, makeup games, experiment with materials, enjoy stories, sing, dance, laugh and go home tired. 🙂

Parents share ideas, learn new parenting tools, and help each other in our parent classes. All of our programs are full and we are thrilled to be serving so many more families here in Delray than we could in our former Boca location. This year we’ve had 78 children in the Seedlings preschool and 30 children enjoy Little Seedlings. For comparison, during our last year in Boca, we served about 40 children in Seedlings and 12 in Little Seedlings. This year we have an additional 156 children enrolled in Circle of Song, Sunflower Babies, Little Sprouts, Roots & Shoots and We Love Shakespeare! 

A Home for Family

Since 1992, Sunflower has been a home away from home for families, a loving community where kids have the freedom to be kids and adults are supported as they define their own parenting styles. Sunflower’s programs nurture both children and parents, making a lasting difference for entire families.

When we deny young children play, we are denying their right to understand the world. By the time they get to college, we will have denied them the opportunity to fix the world too.

Erika Christakis, M.P.H., M.Ed.

Early Childhood Education Faculty Fellow, Zigler Center for Child Development and Social Policy at the Yale Child Study Center

Sunflower officially opened for classes in our new Delray home on Aug. 24, 2015. Our move to a permanent new home in Delray enabled significant growth for the organization. Sunflower successfully scaled up programs, serving 277 families in 2016–2017, and offering a new summer camp program. Susan Caruso, Sunflower’s inspirational Founder/Director, provides daily hands-on mentoring and training to the expanded teaching staff.  

Sunflower now welcomes many observers, including local university students studying education. The Sunflower model is unique in South Florida and provides a tangible example of the rich experiential learning that occurs when children are given the time and opportunity to explore, wonder, experiment, communicate, problem solve and develop their own play.

Sunflower is a valuable community resource for educators and parents alike. Sunflower offers 25 years of experience in providing Early Childhood, Parent, Art and Nature programs. Sunflower’s Delray home includes two beautiful and ever-changing nature playscapes, a learning garden, and warm welcoming classrooms.

Help us sustain this educational treasure. Capital gifts allow us to reduce the debt acquired with the purchase of our new home, freeing resources to invest in our children for even greater community and family impact. With your help, we’ll raise an even stronger voice for families, for learning and for childhood!

What is Sunflower?

Sunflower Creative Arts is a nonprofit organization that offers programs for children of all ages and parents. We believe hands-on learning experiences in Play, Nature and the Arts are absolutely essential for healthy human development. The pillars of Sunflower’s educational philosophy are Respect for the Individual, Learning Through Experience and Learning Within Community.

Learn more about us on the Sunflower website.

The Sunflower Model is a developmentally based philosophy of social, emotional and intellectual learning that involves parents as facilitators in their child’s educational experience. Our goal is to grow children and adults who are reflective thinkers, respectful communicators, confident innovators, creative problem-solvers, empathetic peacemakers, passionate players and lifelong learners.

A Home for Learning

At Sunflower learning for all ages takes place within the context of Community, through hands-on experiences in Play, Nature and the Arts. Our programs form a basis, not only for children’s future academic success but also for their growth into whole, healthy human beings. 

Remember Play?

We do.

At Sunflower we are play advocates. We view play as a basic human need– as vital to children’s growth as food, water and sleep– as well as a catalyst for learning. But beyond that, we value the experience of pure joy, wonder and self-awareness that play brings to people at all stages of life. We believe play makes for better friends, parents, partners– people– and, ultimately, a better world.

Over the past 60 years we have witnessed, in our culture, a continuous, gradual, but ultimately dramatic decline in children’s opportunities to play freely, without adult control, and especially in their opportunities to play in risky ways. Over the same 60 years we have also witnessed a continuous, gradual, but ultimately dramatic increase in all sorts of childhood mental disorders, especially emotional disorders.

Peter Gray, Phd

Author and Educator

Over the past 60 years we have witnessed, in our culture, a continuous, gradual, but ultimately dramatic decline in children’s opportunities to play freely, without adult control, and especially in their opportunities to play in risky ways. Over the same 60 years we have also witnessed a continuous, gradual, but ultimately dramatic increase in all sorts of childhood mental disorders, especially emotional disorders.

Peter Gray, Phd

Author and Educator

Your gift to the Home for Sunflower campaign supports:

  • Childhoods filled with rich learning, highly skilled teachers, and a loving community
  • A unique environment for student teachers to visit and observe child-led learning at its best
  • An educational model grounded in respectful communication and peaceful problem solving
  • Community building and connection for parents, both in person and online
  • Free programs for parents with newborns and school-age children
  • Advocacy initiatives promoting Play, Art, and time in Nature as essential to healthy development

A Home for Childhood 

At Sunflower, we are advocates for children. We give them opportunities to be heard, to learn–and to just be kids. Our programs set the stage for the development of social-emotional intelligence, imagination, problem-solving skills, innovative thinking and the creativity needed to successfully lead future generations.

Naming and Honoring Opportunities

Recently the campaign welcomed new committee members, raised funds to match a $60,000 challenge grant and excited donors with the idea of whimsical and personal naming opportunities.

Many more naming opportunities await new donors! In addition to named spaces, all donations of $500 or more will be recognized in a permanent display at Sunflower.

Capital gifts allow us to become an even more impactful and valuable community resource. To date, we’ve raised $370,928.35 towards our $1 million campaign goal. Thank you again for all you’ve done to support this important goal so far! 

Sunflower Campus $500,000
Learning Center Building $350,000
Learning Center Entry Door $10,000
Learning Center Littles & Bigs Room $150,000
Littles & Bigs Room Entry Door $10,000
Hearth Classroom Ozma’s Hearth Classroom
Kristin Harkness
Hearth $10,000
Front Classroom $25,000
Block Corner $15,000
Back Classroom Ram Sam Sam Classroom
Jennifer and George Ligeti
Parent Resource Room Ship in the Harbor Parent Room
Jennifer and George Ligeti
Staff Office Skipperdee Office
Jennifer and George Ligeti
Reception $15,000
Entry Hallway $10,000
Staff Lounge/Kitchen $15,000
Front Terrace $15,000
The “Littles” Nature Playscape The Shire
The Greenfield Family
Big Bridge on the Nature Playscape The Swiss Bridge
Patricia Werhahn
Water Play Area in the Nature Playscape Gillyweed Fountain
Jaime, Brett, Suzie & Sierra Greenberg
Hillslide on Playscape Song of a Lark Hillslide
Jennifer and George Ligeti
Seedlings “Beach”
BB’s Beach
Patricia Werhahn and Geraldine Werhahn


If you have any questions or would like to make a donation, please contact Ilysia Shattuck, Sunflower’s Operations and Development Director.

561-501-6615 or Ilysia@SunflowerCreativeArts.org

Get Involoved!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you would like to help.

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.

Mr. Fred Rogers

Childhood isn’t the same as when we were growing up.

It’s been rapidly changing in the last five to ten years even. The changes are affecting children, and especially very young children, in negative and often alarming ways. The shortlist includes:

  • Highly structured days with little time for play
  • Dramatic increases in screen time for children of all ages
  • Increasingly sedentary lifestyles for children with accompanying poor health
  • Disconnection from nature
  • Rigid academics forced upon younger and younger children, including preschoolers, in spite of strong evidence supporting experiential, play-based learning

What’s happening to the children?

  • Increasing stress and anxiety
  • Declines in creativity scores and the loss of curiosity
  • Increases in obesity, type 2 diabetes, and vitamin D deficiency
  • Dramatic rises in the number of kids expelled from preschool for aggressive or extreme behavior – especially boys
  • Millions of young children subjected to schooling that demands too much too soon. This is true for low-income students as well. We are not reducing the learning gap with stricter academics for younger children; research shows we are intensifying the problems.

Here are some of our Frequently Asked Questions about the Campaign:

Why Sunflower?
Sunflower has a strong history (since 1992) of supporting play-based learning, nature exploration and arts expression for children while teaching communication skills to all ages, including parents. Research shows that these kinds of rich experiences are exactly what today’s children need to combat current harmful trends.

How you can help
Your tax-deductible donation will help Sunflower buy a home of our own, and ensure a safe future for our valuable programs. Make a donation online HERE, mail a check to Sunflower Creative Arts, 227 N Dixie Blvd, Delray Beach, FL 33444, or call 561 501-6615 to set up a personal one-on-one meeting.

Our children’s futures depend on access to special places like Sunflower Creative Arts. We hope you will join us, support our Capital Campaign, and help us protect the most important parts of childhood.