Identifying how things are different is something children learn very early in life. Parents ask their children questions like, “Which shape is bigger? Which number is greater? What’s the difference between the two pictures?” Equally important, if not more so, is teaching kids to see how things, situations and people are similar, and the Access/ABILITY exhibit recently added to the Please Touch Museum is doing just that.
The Access/ABILITY exhibit was created by Boston’s Children Museum in 2004 and has traveled to museums around the country.
“This important exhibit aims to change attitudes, dispel myths, fears and stereotypes and increase awareness of people living with disabilities by acknowledging differences while highlighting similarities,” said Laura Foster, president and CEO of the Please Touch Museum. “Access/ABILITY provides an arena in which children can safely ask questions and receive open and honest answers about what it’s like to live with a physical or learning disability.”
The Access/ABILITY exhibit, designed for children ages 5 through 12, echoes the museum’s philosophy of “learning through play” with 1,200 square feet of exploration. Kids who enter the exhibit are anxious to try out several hands-on activities.
Susan Weldon, who visited the Please Touch Museum with three of her younger grandchildren, said, “Kids are learning how to do things they’ve never done before. This generation is much more accepting of differences.”
Some of the things kids can experience at the Access/ABILITY exhibit are how it feels to write if you have dyslexia, how to use American Sign Language and Braille to communicate, how buttons, zippers and door handle shapes affect the routine tasks of getting dressed and opening doors, how it feels to power a bicycle with one’s hands, how one’s sense of touch helps a person get around and learn about his or her surroundings, how to do everyday tasks while using a wheelchair and how people are different types of learners — visual, auditory, etc.
“I think the wheelchair course is the most popular in the exhibit,” said Raquel Rivera, a Please Touch Museum employee since 2008. “Many children do surprisingly well, especially 6- to 10-year-olds.”
The Access/ABILITY exhibit teaches children that everyone experiences life in unique ways and excels in different areas. Some people are better at understanding relationships and dealing with people, while others are better at understanding the environment and nature. Some people have great athletic and physical abilities, and others have tremendous artistic talents. Some people think logically and mathematically, whereas others have a way with words.
Tina Kleinguenther, a rehab nurse at Genesis Eldercare, took time to talk with her children during their recent visit to the exhibit. Since she cares for patients with prosthetics, she was able to share her knowledge with her kids as they learned how people with disabilities use remarkable devices for everything from daily tasks to winning competitions.
“It’s good for kids to have this experience and see that people can do anything they set their mind to,” Kleinguenther said.
Visit the Access/ABILITY exhibit with your kids and they will participate in fun, eye-opening activities that will teach them that there are many ways to reach the same goal and more than one road leads to happiness. It’s a wonderful opportunity for education, awareness and discussion.
The Please Touch Museum is located at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia. For more information, visit www.pleasetouchmuseum.org or call 215-581-3181. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Museum admission is $15 for adults and children ages 1 and older (children under 1 are free). The Access/ABILITY exhibit, open until April 24, is free with museum admission.
This article was obtained from http://www.montgomerynews.com/articles/2011/03/01/parents_express/doc4d5edcf37cbb1483057623