The Glazer Children’s Museum has been open in downtown Tampa for nearly 11 years! As our birthday approaches, I have been reflecting on the last 11 years. What impact has the Museum made on the community? What have we learned and how have we grown?
The museum opened with a small team of dedicated staff and volunteers and a whole lot of passion for this community. Looking back on photos of that original team, their excitement is palpable. Their “all hands on deck” attitude and willingness to take risks created a culture of innovation and support that remains to this day. I have been fortunate to call the team at the Glazer Children’s Museum my work family for nearly five years as we work together to continue this legacy and further the Museum’s mission.
As a non-profit organization, we are here to serve the community through play. Why does play matter? Every time a child plays—with an adult, with another child, or alone—new connections form in the brain, building that child’s potential for the future. As children play, they stretch their imaginations, use creativity, improve motor skills, take risks and learn to adapt. Play develops empathy and social skills as kids from different backgrounds, races, genders and abilities play together to build friendships and joy. Playful children become powerful adults; the experiences of a child shape their experience as an adult.
Over the past year-and-a-half, the pandemic has created new challenges for all of us, and children are no exception. Children have endured disruptions in their schedule, their education and their social lives. They have had to manage their own challenges, while the adults in their lives experience heightened strain. Many children are experiencing an unprecedented level of stress due to factors like scary news headlines, isolation and separation anxiety. The good news is, play provides respite and helps us cope with stress. Play also deepens family connections. At the Glazer Children’s Museum, we have introduced monthly Family Play Projects to encourage all families in all forms to learn, connect and heal through play.
So what now?
Well, to begin, we will celebrate our 11th birthday in style! The whole community is invited to join us in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on September 25 from 10 am-3 pm for Birthday Bash, a free family-friendly celebration of PLAY with performances, special guests and classic field-day games. Admission to the Museum will be free that day, too.
Our plan was to celebrate our 10th birthday in 2020 with a blowout party, but COVID-19 got in the way. We are making up for it this year, while keeping the celebration primarily outdoors, socially distant and safe. With its power to heal and connect, we need play now more than ever, so I hope you will join us in this celebration of play. Come on, let’s PLAY Tampa Bay!
*Originally published in our September 2021 Issue