Although temporarily closed due to COVID-19, the Virgin Islands Children’s Museum (VICM) outreach efforts continue throughout the community. To help supply families with the tools needed to keep kids engaged and inspired to create and learn at home this summer, the museum and its partners are providing At Home Discovery Kits to local low-income families. Community support is needed to expand this program to reach those in need on all islands in the territory.
The first distribution of early learner Discovery Kits begins this week and is tailored to younger kids, toddler through 5th grade, and includes items such as activity books, crayons, chalk, coloring sheets, early reader books and stickers. The early learner Discovery Kits will be delivered to Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands, Longpath Community Center and Nana Baby Children’s Home for distribution to children in their networks. A second disbursement of a more advanced Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, Math (STREAM)-based kit for youth 6th through 12th grade is planned for mid-July.
Discovery Kit items for the first disbursement were donated by Catherine Perlich, Dr. David Smith, Kate Rake Williams, Division of Fish and Wildlife of USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources, National Informal STEM Education Network, Orange Wave Innovative Science LLC, St. Thomas Astronomy Resources Society, University of the Virgin Islands Etelman Observatory, Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service, USVI Storm Strong, the Virgin Islands Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, and the Virgin Islands Council for the Arts.
Charitable donations to fund the second disbursement of Discovery Kits are essential. Those more advanced kits will provide youth with the materials and instructions needed to do hands-on STREAM activities in their homes. Financial contributions can be made by mail or through the VICM donation button found on its website: www.vichildrensmuseum.org
The museum is committed to continuing to be an informal education resource for the community while the museum doors are closed. This two-phase At Home Discovery Kit initiative may be scaled up and extended to families on St. Croix and St. John through the fall if there is public interest and financial support to do so. Coordinators of youth-oriented organizations are encouraged to contact the children’s museum to learn how they may be able to receive discovery kits.
Since closing its doors in March, the museum has remained committed to being an informal education resource for Virgin Islanders, giving access to education resources on social media and gifting books to children throughout the territory as an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The VICM is a museum for all, and with the help of community partners, the At Home Discovery Kits are another way it is helping to ensure that children all have opportunities to “Explore, Play, Discover.”
For more information contact the Virgin Islands Children’s Museum, Director of Programs Amber McCammon at [email protected]