Since opening its doors on September 25, 2010, the Glazer Children's Museum has strived to touch the lives of Bay area children through various educational outreach programs that provide guidance, knowledge and intellectual support.
Earlier this month, that passion for enriching the lives of children was recognized at the seventh annual WEDU Be More Awards. During the luncheon event on February 9, the Glazer Children's Museum was named the recipient of the "Be More Knowledgeable" Award.
"It was an honor to receive the Be More Knowledgeable award," said Kerry Falwell, Development Manager for the Glazer Children's Museum. "We won specifically for our Sunshine Sunday program, which is an initiative that brings children with disabilities and their families into the museum outside of normal operating hours."
The Sunshine Sunday program was designed by museum officials with help from education faculty and ability advocates at the University of Tampa. During the program, the lights and sounds within exhibits are turned down so service specialists can more easily work with the children and families dealing with disabilities. Feedback from parents regarding the program have been very positive, as it provides a no-judgment zone where children feel comfortable. Sunshine Sunday has also helped families develop a network among parents challenged by similar issues.
According to Falwell, the fact that people are learning about Sunshine Sunday is encouraging because the museum has not yet marketed the program or received outside funding for it.
"We are proud of this program and the service it was able to provide to hundreds of community members, and the benefit to the families is invaluable," she said.
The Glazer Children's Museum was one of five finalists for the award, taking home the honor in its first year of eligibility. The museum was ineligible last year due to the stipulation that nonprofit organizations be in operation for at least one year to be considered for the award.
Sunshine Sunday is just one of many programs the Glazer Children's Museum has to offer. The museum has 170 hands-on exhibits in 14 themed areas. The themed zones range from a replica of the Port of Tampa, where children learn how goods are transferred by water, to Safety Village with a kid-sized Publix, and more.
In addition to the permanent interactive displays, traveling exhibits are brought in twice a year for three to four months at a time. Scheduled programs like sports safety, fitness activities and art projects happen on the museum floor throughout the day.
With the wide variety of programs available, the museum continues to make an impact on kids that can last a lifetime.
"Something that may look simple like checking out a kid-sized cart of groceries is a fun and interactive way of teaching children healthy food choices, and scanning the items teaches the concept of paying for goods we consume," Falwell said. "Every exhibit offers these types of real-world lessons that will help the children develop as lifelong learners and leaders."
The museum strives to give every child in the area access to its educational programs regardless of their ability to pay admission.
The Glazer Children's Museum, committed to influencing the lives of as many kids as possible, has set a goal for 2012 and beyond to donate 10% of annual admissions to other nonprofits that serve disadvantaged or underserved children.
"Another goal of the museum is to continue providing these educational programs at the highest standard of excellence," Falwell said. "This means bringing in the right traveling exhibits, continuing to train staff properly and more."
That commitment to excellence is just one reason the "Be More Knowledgeable" Award now calls the Glazer Children's Museum home.
To become involved with any of these educational outreach programs, please visit www.glazermuseum.org. If you are a family or child with a specific need or desire, and want to know more about the Glazer Children's Museum, please call 813-443-3861.