October 15, 2016 — (Key West, FL). Key West Art & Historical Society’s Commitment to Youth:  Season Programming for Children and “Museums for Youth” Scholarships Program Announced

Key West Art and Historical Society’s commitment to youth programming— educational initiatives that aim to inspire a greater sense of place and historical understanding about our island home— is now underscored by the announcement of this season’s offerings and the efforts The Society continues to make to provide scholarship opportunities and low-cost registration fees.

In the last two years, educational programming at Key West Art & Historical Society has more than quadrupled, offering unique and exciting workshops, classes, exhibitions, and lectures that invite the youth of the community to explore and discover our islands’ abundant history and cultural assets throughout the three landmark museums they are steward to— Fort East Martello, the Custom House, and Key West Lighthouse and Keepers Quarters.

This past summer, the Society was able to provide nearly $12,000 in scholarships throughout the community for their esteemed, 30-year-old ArtCamp! program, a nine-week program for children aged 5-12 that celebrates Key West’s rich artistic history and natural landscape.

“ArtCamp! provided innumerable pro-social benefits for children who live in Housing Authority communities by building self-confidence, self-esteem, character, and a real-life opportunity to practice their social skill-set, says Gary Young, Resident Activities Coordinator at the Key West Housing Authority. “Often, summer break provides children with very limited interactive experiences outside their family environment, their immediate community, summer-school or their faith communities. Week-long ArtCamp! sessions provide these deserving children an opportunity to explore something unknown to them.”

Ultimately, the Society aims to provide scholarships for at least a third of each program offered, and are actively seeking sponsors within the community to contribute to this important fund.

“Teaching children to appreciate a museum setting in a logical and caring manner provides them with a rich, “beyond the classroom,” learning experience,” says Adele Williams, Society Director of Education.   “Scholarships will ensure that more children have the opportunity to be introduced to the transformative power of art, culture, and museums.”

While all scholarships are based on economic need, The Society is committed to offering low registration fees for all, with discounted registration for members.  This Fall, families can look to the following programs in which to enroll or engage their children:

School Holiday & Professional Days Workshops. Held in the Garrison classroom and the surrounding Civil War era grounds of Fort East Martello Museum, these interactive, cross-disciplinary workshops are designed to provide fun learning activities for children aged 5-12 on days Monroe County Schools are closed. Each session is specially-themed with low student-to-teacher ratios that ensure that each student’s learning style is addressed.

Museums for Homeschoolers.  A new, two-hour workshop on the first Tuesday of every month for homeschooling families, Society Director of Education Adele Williams guides participants in an afternoon of museum antics and inquiry-based learning.  This workshop provides families with opportunities to explore the various museums and their artifacts, dioramas, and immersive exhibits.

Parent & Me Classes.   How does a play date at a 150-year-old fort sound? This new program at Fort East Martello Museum celebrates inquiry-based learning while inviting parents with young toddlers to explore the Fort and its artifacts, dioramas, and immersive exhibits. Led by early childhood educator Jennie Perloff, each class will focus on a specific theme that includes art, science, math and building.  Parents and children will participate in a playful group circle that promotes creativity, sensory exploration and problem solving.  Participants are also able to enjoy the Imagination Playground, water play, and story time in the spectacular setting of the Martello tower.

Primary Sources.  Society programming includes a seasonal “Distinguished Speaker Series” at the Custom House Museum, where subject matter experts visit twice monthly to discuss topics that run the gamut from Henry Flager in the Gilded Age to Castro’s exiled daughter, Alina Fernandez, reflecting on life under a communist regime.  Now in its second year, Primary Sources takes these experts into the Monroe County schools, bringing museum quality lectures into the classrooms to encourage the next generation of museum-goers while educating students on topics pertinent to our cultural geography.

Traveling Exhibits.  This new program is designed to teach students about “The Overseas Railroad,” an exhibit that commemorates Henry Flagler’s epic project.  In addition to the factual information presented to students, the railroad construction across 128 miles of rock islands and open water provide tremendous applications for teaching science, technology, and engineering— with a curriculum based on the processes used to dredge, lift, transport and construct this engineering marvel. The Society will share the exhibit with local schools and then travel to neighboring South Florida counties, promoting Flagler’s accomplishments and legacy in an effort to better understand our past and plan for our future.

In addition to these programs, other youth-based initiatives will include:  Audio aps for walking tours to make the museums more youth-user friendly, Living History Tours at Fort Jefferson, a Children of the 1800s walking tour, special Artists in Schools programs, and an anti-bullying program.

To apply for or donate to the Museums for Youth Scholarship Fund, contact Adele Williams, Director of Education at 305.295.6616 extension 115. Detailed descriptions of the various youth program sessions and registration information can be found at KWAHS.ORG/EDUCATION. Your museums.  Your community.  It takes an island. 

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Key West Art & Historical Society activities for children take place in forts, museums, schools, on the beach, and even in trees.  Here, “pirate students” prepare for a mock-battle led by instructor Rick “Deadeye” Wheelus during a week of pirate-themed activities during ArtCamp! 2016.