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28 Feb, 2017

U.S. Children’s Museums Start 90-Day Campaign to Celebrate Role in Welcoming Immigrants, Refugees

ARLINGTON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) has launched a new campaign—90 Days of Action—to showcase the important role children’s museums play in welcoming immigrant and refugee children and families to their communities. The campaign includes a variety of elements including a social media push, a survey of its members to learn more about current and planned programs to serve immigrant and refugee children and families, and resources to help members communicate about their efforts at the local level.

“Our member museums touch the lives of 31 million children and families annually, offering opportunities for experiential learning. As part of their work, they also engage diverse communities, creating fun, educational opportunities for new Americans and immigrants,” explained ACM Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus. “Our 90 Days of Action Campaign gives us a chance to share the extraordinary ways we partner to strengthen our greater community through inclusive practice.”

To help shape the campaign, ACM is conducting research with its members. Early survey findings reveal that a majority currently implement outreach strategies specifically to reach immigrant and/or refugee populations in their community. More than 75 percent reported considering new opportunities to serve and support immigrants and/or refugee populations.

The campaign runs through May 8, ending shortly after ACM’s annual conference. The hashtag #WorldTheyDeserve serves as the tagline, enabling the sharing of stories, photos, videos, and information about the cultural education and engagement efforts of ACM’s 400 member museums.

ACM members engage with immigrant and refugee communities in many ways beyond simply offering admission to their venues. Generally, engagement falls into three categories: Caregiver Support—reaching out to childcare providers with enrichment opportunities; Cultural Bridges—producing special programming to bridge cultural gaps; and Art and Action—creating special art or exhibits around a cultural or tolerance theme. Below are examples of member organizations’ work in the three areas:

Caregiver Support

  • Habitot Children’s Museum, Berkeley, CA: Caregiver’s Café—Monthly program for immigrant caregivers that teaches childcare skills as well as business skills (such as how to write contracts with employers).
  • Long Island Children’s Museum, NY: Together to Kindergarten—Summer programs for immigrants, geared toward children and caregivers. Shares customs and parenting/life skills to engage parents in children’s learning and success.
  • TELUS Spark, Calgary: Community Connections—Works with social service organizations to provide museum access. Sets up the museum as a safe space for refugees.

Cultural Bridges

  • Children’s Discovery Center, San Jose, CA: Family Evening Meals—Works to bring multiple ethnic communities together by hosting family meals focused on shared ingredients in different culture’s foods. Following dinner, speakers explore cultural similarities and differences.
  • Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, WI:Traveling the World with Children’s Museum of Eau Claire”—Highlights different parts of the world on a monthly basis. The museum also engages immigrant communities, offers bilingual materials and interpreters, and partners with community organizations serving immigrants.

Art as Action

  • Discovery Center of Murfee Springs, TN: “We are Tennessee”—Producing a large-scale art wall focused around the development of identity and exploring what makes a citizen.

At the national level, ACM is coordinating the Asian Culture Exhibit Series, funded by the Freeman Foundation. This multi-year initiative promotes cultural understanding among children and their families with five traveling exhibits showcasing life in Asia. To date, more than two million visitors at children’s museums across the U.S. have experienced the series. In addition, 95,000 people have attended museums around the U.S. with free or reduced admission as part of Museums for All, an access program that encourages families of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly.

Contacts: Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), Shawn Flaherty, 703-554-3609