published on 08/31/2007
Kids With Disabilities Have Fun, Just Like Other Kids
"Kids Like You, Kids Like Me" offers children and their parents the chance to experience a day in the life of a child with a disability. The program is presented by Creative Discovery Museum and Siskin Children’s Institute and sponsored by Unum and the Public Education Foundation.
Opening Sept. 22 and continuing through Oct. 21, the exhibit is extremely interactive, featuring equipment that simulates various disabilities as well as assistive devices that help people with disabilities perform activities of daily life.
Hands-on simulations duplicate school and home settings, including a playground, classroom, bedroom and kitchen. Visitors can play basketball in a wheelchair, master a computer without the use of hands and order a favorite meal without speaking.
Now in its ninth year, Kids Like You, Kids Like Me is designed to break down barriers and raise awareness about disabilities. Despite the serious and potentially intimidating nature of the topic, the exhibit itself combines education and fun.
Kids Like You, Kids Like Me is presented in partnership with Siskin Children’s Institute, which brings its expertise in the area of assistive technology to the shared program. "We work in partnership with Siskin Children's Institute to be sure that the disability simulations, and the assistive technology and the things we ask children are very realistic," said Dr. Jayne Griffin, Director of Education at Creative Discovery Museum.
Assistive technology helps children with disabilities participate in everyday activities and encourages independence. “By using assistive devices – for example, using a switch to activate a toy, a Braille book or a voice output device – children learn that their peers with disabilities can do the same things they do, they just might do them differently,” said Jennie Sumrell, Program Technology Coordinator at Siskin Children’s Institute.
Creative Discovery Museum offers two-hour school tours free of charge to classes in grades K-5. As students enter the exhibit, volunteers encourage them to select a visual, physical or communication disability. In the exhibit, students then go through a typical day with that disability. All tours also include a puppet play about disabilities by Kids on the Block and a question and answer session with a person who has a disability. In addition, two-hour tours also include a special art lesson.
"School tours are a big part of this exhibit, a major part of raising awareness about disabilities," said Dr. Griffin. "We anticipate bringing about 2,000 school children through the exhibit during the month that it is on display."
For example, Normal Park Museum Magnet integrates Kids Like You, Kids Like Me into its first grade curriculum, according to Joyce Tatum, who serves as the school's Museum Liaison. All three first grade classes will visit the exhibit on Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Normal Park first graders study the human body and healthy habits, as required by Hamilton County Schools curriculum standards. "But it's hard for us at the school to demonstrate to the children how it would be if they could not do all those physical activities we study, like seeing, hearing, and so on," said Mrs. Tatum. "This exhibit gives them a fabulous opportunity to see how it would be if they were not able to do some of those things they do every day. It's an awesome experience for them. They come back with a new appreciation and understanding that people with disabilities are not a curiosity. They are just like them."
"That's a big part of what we're trying to show: Kids with disabilities do what other kids do -- including having fun -- they just do it a little differently," said Jayne Griffin.
She adds that it's important for kids to understand that about each other, that children with and without disabilities are much more alike than they are different.
"The biggest 'aha moment' that everybody has is when they realize there are so many things they can do, even with the simulated disability," said Jayne Griffin. "They can work a puzzle or make art when they're blind. They can work a computer using their head instead of their hands. They can climb on a climbing wall without the use of their arms."
Creative Discovery Museum is open Monday-Saturday (except Wednesdays): 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday: noon-5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays, except Wednesday, Oct. 10 during Fall Break.
Tickets: $8.95 for children and adults. 321 Chestnut Street. For more information, call , or visit www.cdmfun.org.
For information on Kids Like You, Kids Like Me, call or visit . The Kids Like You, Kids Like Me exhibit gallery is fully accessible.
For information on training opportunities and disability resources, contact Siskin Children’s Institute by calling or visiting . Located in downtown Chattanooga, Siskin Children’s Institute is a leader in serving children with special needs, their families and the professionals who touch their lives.
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. CDM focuses on a broad range of areas encompassed by Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Technology and the Sciences. In addition to its exhibits, CDM 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.