Friday, January 15, 2010

Many Hats

This post was contributed by Museum Board president Jessica Holden Sherwood.

My children went to Providence Children’s Museum for about a year before I ever did, which might sound odd coming from the president of the board of directors.

But back when I was Mommy to a 3-year-old and 1-year-old, their outings – with Dad or another relative – to the Children’s Museum were a blissful “staycation” at home for me. My husband always returned raving about what a great place it was. I eventually learned it myself, and checked the “interested in volunteering” box when renewing our membership.

Nowadays when I visit the Museum, it is with two proverbial hats.

I am a member of the Museum because it’s a great place to bring my two energetic children: an active, engrossing, commercial-free, educational great place. We virtually never spend an entire day at home. (This might reflect more on the parents than the children, but I digress.) On a foul-weather day, the Museum is the best of all possible destinations – most other options involve spending lots of money, often including on video games and junk food. Of course, the Museum is a great destination in any weather. As a member, I look forward to sitting in the sunshine this summer while my children explore the new exhibits in the Children’s Garden.
On the other hat, I am a supporter of the Museum through donations and service on the board of directors. If the Museum were just a great family destination, this wouldn’t be so – I’m not a supporter of FantasyLand or United Skates of America, though we’ve been known to visit.

I support the Museum because of its social services and its commitment to all children. These are not always visible to visitors.
  • Did you know that of every 100 visitors, about 35 are there at no charge? All families who receive RIte Care (low-income health care) or have children participating in the Museum's Head Start program receive admission to the Museum.
  • Did you know that Meeting Street brings its students, with disabilities of various kinds, to the Museum regularly? They can play and explore, practicing social interactions and fine and gross motor skills – just like all Museum visitors do.
  • Did you know that social workers at the Museum supervise visits between children in foster care and their separated parents? (See this post from one staffer.) Visits like these sometimes take place in government offices, or in fast-food restaurants, or at the Museum! That makes an enormous difference to both the children and the parents. This program received an award Innovations in American Government Award and has become a national model.
My kids, now ages 7 and 5, have joined me in supporting the Museum, holding an occasional lemonade stand with all proceeds going toward the Play Works capital campaign. Our whole family will feel proud at the grand opening of those two new exhibits. I hope to see you there!

1 comment:

Nancy L Kaye said...

What an inspiring, wonderful article!
Reading it feels like a breath of fresh air - no gimmicks, no cell phones, no nonsense FUN and LEARNING at the same time.
May the Providence Childrens' Museum continue to flourish and grow.