Partner with a Children's Museum

Children's MuseumChildren's museums are an excellent venue to present EMS information to the public. Many children's museums have periodic or permanent health exhibits, and the museums provide access to many local children.

For example, the renovated Grace Ambulance is a landmark in the Grace Children's Museum's Health Zone in Abilene, Texas. The exhibit includes a life-size "Operation" game table, "Build a Body" challenge using X-rays, the interactive Grace ambulance, kiosks on eyes and digestion (with fun and gross pull-out guts), and "the Body Atlas," where children can learn about each of the body's primary systems through the use of movable panels.

A children's museum is "a very non-threatening environment, so families don't feel like they are being preached to," explained Nora Moynihan, director of education and community enrichment for Port Discovery, a children's museum in Baltimore, Maryland, that has about 230,000 visitors yearly.

Many children's museums work with their local firefighters on exhibits, but fewer work with EMS. "We don't have an ambulance exhibit here, but we do have a fire truck," said Patti Habeck, director of education at The Building for Kids in Appleton, Wisconsin, that has about 135,000 visitors annually. "It would be really great to see the EMTs parked outside and to let the kids walk through [the ambulance]."

The best way to establish a strong partnership with a children's museum is to develop exhibits and programs that meet the goals of both organizations, said Moynihan. She prefers educational partners who can commit to the museum's programs, show up consistently, and be flexible (for example, you might be asked to send a Spanish-speaking EMT to a weekend exhibit for Hispanic Heritage Month).

The international Association of Children's Museums has 341 member museums, mostly in urban and suburban areas. Check the Web site (www.childrensmuseums.org) to find a museum near you.

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