Monday, March 30, 2009

Giving Families a "Head Start"

On Wednesday night, the Museum hosted its second Head Start Family Night of 2009, welcoming a record-setting 800+ children, families and volunteers from Varrone, Friendship and Dean community centers for an energetic night of good food and great fun.
The partnership with Greater Providence Head Start is part of the Museum's AmeriCorps program, made successful by a team of MuseumCorps educators who develop creative classroom activities for Head Start children, guide them on Museum field trips, and invite their families to free Family Nights.A line of people snaked around the building on Wednesday as they waited to enter and then made their way upstairs for dinner in the colorfully decorated Assembly Space, thanks to generous food donations from community supporters. The families also received free year-long memberships – 338 were given out! – and they played. And played. And played!
Here's what several AmeriCorps members and staff had to say about Family Night:

“Family Night was crazier and more fun than we could have imagined! I cannot count the number of people who told me they had a blast and they couldn't wait to come back. We planned on feeding around 500 people and ended up feeding 800. All of the wonderful Head Start volunteers made our job so much easier. We couldn't have done it without them.”
Katie Barron, AmeriCorps member, Head Start team

“The food situation was nothing short of a miracle; when I saw that over 200 people had eaten at 6:30 (with many going up for seconds!), I was positive we wouldn't have the ability to feed everybody. Somehow, though, the food just kept coming out of the kitchen. It was almost as if somebody was looking over us to make sure that we had just enough food to satiate over 800 people.”
Molly Russell, AmeriCorps member, Head Start team“I was really impressed with how understanding all of the families were throughout the night. There were a lot of people in the Museum, and a lot of long lines, but I didn't hear anyone complaining. Every time I passed through an exhibit families were laughing and playing – it was such a positive atmosphere!”
Camille Cordeiro, AmeriCorps member, Head Start team

“Everyone was in such good spirits and excited to eat, mingle, and most importantly, play. A favorite moment: a child (about 4) was running down the ramp ... He looked at me and, jumping up, and down yelled, "I'M SO EXCITED TO BE HERE!" It was fabulous and totally made my night. :)”
Kelly Sullivan, AmeriCorps member, Head Start team

“I LOVED Head Start Family Night. There was such an amazing energy in the Museum. I loved seeing some of the younger kids showing their older siblings or parents how different exhibits worked. There was such a sense of community, and I hope that everyone had as great a time as I did!”

Lindsay Kilgore, Experience Coordinator

“This is an amazing collaboration. Kudos to those who came before and made this a tradition and my deepest thanks to all here who made it such a success … it took a village to do what we did and we felt the support of the staff and volunteers (and needed it). To the team – Molly, Miranda, Camille, Katie and Kelly – my congratulations on a fabulous job. Each team member fulfilled their duties with exquisite attention to detail. My humble thanks to all.”

Mary Scott Hackman, Early Childhood Program Developer (and Head Start team supervisor)

Congratulations, team – what a night!

Click here if you would like to make a contribution to the Museum to help fund charitable memberships for children and families in need. Thank you!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Talking Back

There are lots of wonderful recent additions to the talk-back board in Play Power, which asks visitors, "What was a special place where you played?" I notice a trend – many shared memories of playing outdoors and in basements! Here's a sample:

And this isn't new information, but it's presented in a new way. On the first few days of January, Museum visitors added their wishes for the coming year to our New Year's tree. The result was funny, touching, utterly charming. Merideth, one of our Experience Coordinators, created a wish collage to hang in her office. It's beautiful – not only the wishes, but that they're preserved in such a wonderful way – and a reminder that our staff really notice and appreciate the amazing things that happen around us all the time.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Play makes news

At the Museum, we know that kids need plenty of time for active play, and we're excited that the idea has been popping up in lots of recent articles and research.Last week, the New York Times published The 3 R's? A Fourth is Crucial, Too - Recess and the Providence Journal printed an LA Times article about the growing problem of preschooler inactivity.

Also see this recent post for links to more articles.

What have you noticed or read lately? Leave us a comment to let us know. And then get out and play!