Thursday, 12 January 2017

HEALTHY KIDS: WHAT'S YOUR MUSEUM'S RESOLUTION?


MUSEUM INNOVATIONS

KELLY MACKENZIE

Well, it’s the new year and do you know that means? Resolutions!

What's yours? (source)
While researching for this post, I initially wanted to see if museums were doing anything to help people with their resolutions or maybe an exhibit on the history of New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I found an interesting report, Healthy Kids, Healthy Museums. Published in 2010 and focused on American and UK museums, this report profiles the “best practices at children’s museums that offer family-friendly strategies to combat the childhood obesity epidemic” (source).

While that may not sound fun, the museums they profiled developed fun, innovative, and creative programs and exhibitions aimed at getting families to think more about their lifestyles.

There are three important lessons in the report:

1. It is okay if its been done before - do not worry about whether or not someone else has done a certain activity. What matters is that the children engage with it and learn something.


So true (source)
2. Activities, activities, activities - children do not go to a children’s museum to read panels. They go to play (and learn through play). Hands-on learning with children has limitless possibilities and sometimes the simple ideas can be the most effective. The Portland Children's Museum created the Grasshopper Grocery and Butterfly Bistro, where children could grocery shop (with plastic, healthy foods) then 'create' a meal with these ingredients. 

3. Partnerships - museums form partnerships with numerous organizations for various exhibitions. Museums need to look in their community and see whom they can partner with to encourage an active, and fun, lifestyle for the children and youth of their community (can you say Color Run!)

Trust me these are fun, although the blue can be difficult to get off (source)

One of the most valuable parts of this report is "Replication Tips", which are included with every museum profiled. If you want to follow one of their examples they provide you with some insight into why they made certain choices and how you can learn from their experience (and remember size constraints are no excuse, you can always downsize the original concept!).

I recommend looking at this report because it is full of ideas, suggestions, and stories of success that museums can re-create.

This is one area where museums can create some fun activities that families, adults, youth, and children will enjoy. The trick is going to be making your activities relevant and fun enough that people want to go to after the New Year's Resolution fever has worn off.





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