Monday, April 7, 2014

Celebrating Our Playful Volunteers

April 6 to 12 is National Volunteer Week, a time for us to recognize the extraordinary individuals who play an essential role in serving the Museum’s mission to inspire and celebrate learning through active play and exploration.

The Museum simply couldn’t open its doors without the support of a dedicated, playful and diverse team of volunteers.  In 2013, over 300 committed volunteers, interns and college work-study students served more than 13,000 hours.  They engaged children and caregivers in hands-on exhibits and activities and greeted visitors at the welcome desk each day.  Behind the scenes, interns conducted research and evaluation projects and volunteers assisted with fundraising events, prepared mailings, provided office support, and cared for the Museum’s collection of children’s books.

The majority of Museum volunteers are play guides – the playful people in yellow aprons who welcome visitors in exhibits and programs and encourage positive play and learning experiences.  Play guides are adults, college and high school students, and families who expand and deepen visitor engagement by offering challenges, sharing favorite tricks, and inspiring them to consider new ways to play.  Family volunteers (usually adult/child pairs) play together, share their enthusiasm, and invite visitors to get involved, all while modeling ways to play.  Play guides get to know and build relationships with regular visitors, enabling them to encourage individual interests and spark kids’ and adults’ curiosity.

“Volunteers are an essential part of the Museum,” says Volunteer & AmeriCorps Coordinator Julie Burkhard.  “They help us extend our work with children and families and bring their amazing set of individual skills to all aspects of our work.  We have high school and college students, families and community members in our exhibits.  We have students interested in child psychology, retired teachers and even people who want to build their skill set for when they become parents.  Our volunteers not only do good work, but they help the Museum connect to the community we serve.”
Interested in volunteering?  The Museum is always looking for play guides and family volunteers.  Click here or contact Julie to learn about other current opportunities.

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