Children's Museum helps special needs children

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The Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore, Maryland has received its latest award for its partnership with PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs. This is the second of such award in the past two years for the museum.

The award is the 2010 MetLife Foundation and Association of Children’s Museums Promising Practice Replication Award. The PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs is an affiliate with the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

The program, PACT, was created in 2007 to create an inclusive therapeutic playful community for children of all abilities and their families. This was done through grants from the Baltimore Community Foundation and the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund. The award includes a $10,000 grant, helping to ensure that more families whose children have special needs can still access the museum and its lessons in a meaningful way.

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Many people and businesses are unaware of the need to have such a program for children who cannot typically interact as other children can. However, the Port Discovery Museum goes above and beyond the mandated accommodations such as a wheelchair ramp and provides actual opportunities to interact and have moments of learning so that all children can benefit. That is the goal for PACT across the nation in many children’s museums.

“Accessibility to us means that all children can enjoy magical moments through their interactions with materials, exhibits and nurturing individuals,” Nora Moynihan, Director of Education at Port Discovery has said. “We are grateful to MetLife Foundation for its support and are proud recipients of these awards; however, at the end of the day, the real reward is when the children and their families come here and realize the gains in their development.”

Port Discovery offers 3 floors of educational, interactive and hands-on/minds-on experiences designed for children ages 2-10 years of age and is currently ranked 4th among the Top 10 Children’s Museums in the United States by Child Magazine.

It is due to this inclusive program that children with physical and developmental disabilities can obtain the same educational and social aspects as other children receive. This benefits a child's overall health. If a child has more opportunities to socialize and connect like typical children do, they have shown decrease tendencies for depression and other related mental health problems. Further, these opportunities provide a place and time for children to practice certain skills, such as fine motor or gross motor skills they may have difficulty with.

Port Discovery Children’s Museum is located at 35 Market Place Baltimore, MD 21202. Click here to view their website for more information.

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