FAIRFIELD, CT - As part of a growing movement in museums nationwide, the Fairfield Museum and History Center is offering a new program, Discovering Our Way, for families with special needs children, featuring interactive gallery tours in a small group setting.
Discovering Our Way is designed for families with both mainstream and special needs children ages 7 – 13 to enjoy the museum in a safe, low-stress environment. The program will include an interactive tour in the American Revolution section of the Creating Community: Celebrating 375 Years of Our Past exhibition, where participants will explore the secret and fascinating world of spies, learn about their coded messages and help to crack a code!
Planning for Discovering Our Way began more than a year ago with a brainstorming session with the Fairfield Special Education PTA (SEPTA), discussions with parents of special needs children and educators in the field.
“The goal of the program was to meet the special challenges faced by these families, while addressing the Fairfield Museum’s mission which is to inspire students of all ages and backgrounds with Museum experiences that are personal and meaningful,” says Christine Jewell, the Museum’s Director of Education. Jewell, who has more than 10 years of experience developing and implementing museum education programs in the arts, history and culture for adults, families and children, will be leading the tours along with Bonita Lee, a Connecticut-certified special education teacher.
“I am so excited to be involved in this program that enriches special needs children by broadening their exposure to a variety of subjects in a fun and engaging way,” says Bonita Lee, a specialist in private practice who teaches children and adults with a broad range of disabilities.
According to the American Alliance of Museums, one in 88 American children is estimated to be on the autism spectrum, and an estimated five percent of children seven and under have a disability or special need. These children may have special challenges with social interaction, sensory processing, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behavior which makes it difficult for them to participate in a public museum experience.
Discovering Our Way offers a quieter, less crowded experience for these children and their families, allowing them to enjoy the exhibition at their own pace.
“By essentially having the exhibition to ourselves, we don’t have to worry and everyone can get something out of it, and that’s priceless,” says Melissa Rosenbluh, parent of a 13-year-old son with special needs.
“There are not many public outing that we can take as a family and we are so fortunate to have a local history museum that is flexible and willing to explore new opportunities for families with special needs children in the community…I think it’s fabulous,” she adds.
Discovering Our Way will be offered Saturdays, April 5, April 26 and May 3 in two sessions: 10:00 – 10:45 am or 11:00 – 11:45 am. Advanced reservations are required by calling 203-259-1598; admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children.
About the Fairfield Museum and History Center
Fairfield Museum and History Center is a community cultural arts and education center established in 2007 by the 103-year old Fairfield Historical Society. The 13,000 square-foot museum, inspired architecturally by the historic warehouses along Southport harbor, includes modern galleries, a research library, a museum shop and community spaces overlooking Fairfield’s Town Green. The Fairfield Museum and History Center believes in the power of history to inspire the imagination, stimulate thought and transform society.
Located at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield, CT, the Museum is open daily 10am – 4 pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors. Members of the Museum and children are free. Admission to the Museum is free Mondays and Tuesdays, courtesy of People’s United Bank. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or view us online at www.fairfieldhistory.org.