The Issue: Limited Play Opportunities for Children with Autism
Play teaches growing children to develop a social language through sharing, engage in problem solving and creativity, and build self-esteem through new friendships. For many children with autism-spectrum disorders, though, understanding abstract concepts, pretending, and developing flexible habits pose insurmountable challenges that limit their ability to play with their peers, according to research from the Indiana Resource Center for Autism. Because they fall into fixed, repetitive habits and cannot easily enter into "play scripts" with other children, their ability to join in is hampered, especially in activities and environments that are unsuited for their unique behavior and reactions.
The Campaign: Funding After-Hours Museum Event
If this Grassroots campaign raises $500, then The Children’s Museum of Phoenix can host a play event for families of children who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The free night of play will run after the museum closes, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., to give families of children diagnosed with autism a chance to explore and interact in a less boisterous atmosphere. Up to 600 visitors will be able to explore the museum’s exhibits and developmentally appropriate opportunities. The museum will also create calm zones on each floor for children to use as a quiet refuge. Parents and caregivers can follow the kids through the exhibits, and a high number of specially trained staff will allow the museum to accommodate everyone for the event. Every additional $500 raised will fund another event.
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Children’s Museum of Phoenix
A small group of volunteers started the Children’s Museum of Phoenix in 1998 as the Phoenix Family Museum. Because it lacked a permanent home, it existed as a set of eight travelling exhibits that brought knowledge and fun to local schools and community events. In 2001, voters approved funds to renovate the Monroe School as its new home, and it reopened in 2008 with a range of diverse programming.
Reaching out to develop minds, muscles, and imaginations, today the Children’s Museum of Phoenix engages visitors with three floors of interactive exhibits and educational programs. Overseen by the museum’s playologists, the exhibits promote imaginative play and creativity through such setups as a tricycle car wash, a fort-building arena, and a hands-on art studio. Children can create with their fingers on an illuminated sand table or climb a tower of found objects and gaze out at the activity of the museum.