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Community    |    Articles of interest to the community.

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published on 11/14/2008

“Helping Hands” at Discovery Museum


This holiday season, when so much attention is focused on giving, Creative Discovery Museum is opening a brand new exhibit -- created locally by its own staff -- dedicated to giving and helping others.

The Helping Hands exhibit is designed to give children and families fun, hands-on opportunities to help others -- locally, nationally, and globally -- while teaching children about the importance of giving and showing that every gift can make a difference.

In addition to learning about giving, children and families can:
* Vote on a cause the Museum will support with a donation
* Do hands-on activities to help others and the environment
* Help make a sculpture that evokes the spirit of giving
* Riding a stationary bike to raise money for St. Jude Hospital
* See what other children have done to help others
* Donate a toy to a child in need
* Help the Museum collect a million pennies to educate children overseas

The exhibit is made possible through funding from Benwood Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, United Way of Greater Chattanooga, Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and Maclellan Foundation.

“Giving doesn’t just happen. It has to be modeled and taught,” said Dr. Jayne Griffin, Director of Education for the Museum. “We need to teach children about the joy of giving. When they learn to meet the needs of others, they learn more about themselves, too. That’s one way they gain self esteem.”

Introductory Area: What is Philanthropy: The exhibit opens by letting visitors explore how Chattanooga and Chattanoogans have benefited from the generosity of its own citizens. This area demonstrates the widespread impact that philanthropy can have on a community and that all people can help by helping others. Also, children will explore examples of giving time, talent, and treasure.

The Choices We Make: Visitors get to play the role of a donor, selecting from among three causes the one they would most like to support. At the conclusion of the exhibit, a donation will be made to the cause that received the most votes. These causes were selected by a Kids’ Advisory Board of children age 9-12. After the exhibit closes, the Kids’ Advisory Board will meet again to choose a specific organization to receive the Museum’s donation.

Philanthropy and Feelings: How can very young children understand giving to help others? “In order for young children to develop philanthropic attitudes, they first need to understand and identify their own feelings. In this way, they can begin to develop empathy for others,” said Dr. Jayne Griffin. This section of the exhibit will use a variety of activities including mirrors, puppets, and puzzles to let children under four learn about feelings and how to express them. Signage geared for parents will explain the connections between feelings and philanthropy.

Hands on Helping: In this centerpiece of the exhibit, children will become engaged in a number of hands-on activities designed to help others and the environment. Visitors can:
* help the environment by building small bee houses for “mason bees” that will go to the Tennessee River Gorge Trust
* decorate tray liners for Meals on Wheels, administered locally by Good Neighbors, Inc.
* write letters to soldiers overseas
* make cards that will go in food boxes for the Food Bank
* make paper quilt squares that will be framed into four large works of children’s art that will be donated to Alexian Brothers Senior Neighbors, Chattanooga Community Kitchen, Chattanooga Room in the Inn, and HillCrest Elementary.

Giving: An Artistic Interpretation: The Museum has commissioned artist David Edgar to create and fabricate a sculpture that evokes the spirit of giving. The sculpture will be fabricated on site at the beginning of the exhibit during a two-week extended Artist-in-Residency. It will be linked to an arts area in which children can create their own art piece representative of their ideas about giving. In a new take on the old crafts project of making things out of children’s hand prints, children visiting the exhibit will draw their hand prints on recycled plastic, which the artist will combine into a six-foot sphere of interlocking hand prints. The finished sculpture will become a permanent part of the Museum. Examples of David Edgar’s work (and print quality photos) can be downloaded at

What Kids Have Done: In 2007, a former Creative Discovery Museum teen volunteer, Samantha Gilley, who is blind and is also a cancer survivor, completed a bike ride from Chattanooga to Memphis to raise funds for St. Jude Hospital. This area will feature her ride and give guests a chance to ride stationary bicycles to help raise money for St. Jude. A designated amount of money will be donated to St. Jude for each mile ridden. Also, in this area, visitors can see news clips of local children and teenagers who have developed projects to give back to the community.

How Can I Help: This resource center will both share information about how children and families can help locally, nationally and globally, and also serve as a call to action for children and families to get involved in their community. It will also include information about parents can discuss giving and philanthropy with children at different ages and children’s books related to philanthropy and giving. Children will also have an opportunity to purchase a toy that will be donated to the Children’s Home.

The Power of Pennies: Starting now and continuing after the Helping Hands exhibit closes, visitors can help the Museum collect one million pennies. Children and families can drop their pennies in special dinosaur-shaped collection stations. Museum staff will put the pennies in a special box with plexi-glass windows, so visitors can watch as the pennies grow toward one million. Once a million pennies (or $10,000) is collected, they will be donated to Pennies for Peace, an organization that funds education for children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where a penny goes a long way.

The Museum is open Monday through Friday (except Wednesday) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m., closed Wednesday. Tickets are $8.95 for children and adults. Creative Discovery Museum is located at 321 Chestnut Street in downtown Chattanooga. For more information, call , or visit

About Creative Discovery Museum
Creative Discovery Museum is recognized as one of the top children’s museums in the nation. It is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to educational enrichment for children ages 4-months to 12-years-old through interactive, hands-on experiences that foster creative and critical thinking. The Museum focuses on a broad range of areas encompassed by Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Technology and the Sciences. In addition to its exhibits, Creative Discovery Museum provides local residents and visitors with special events, educational programming, teacher resources for the classroom, field trips, after school programming, early childhood education classes, artist residencies, camps, art lessons, science demonstrations, and a branch of the local library. Creative Discovery Museum is a funded agency of Allied Arts and Tennessee Arts Commission.

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