Great Explorations: where PLAY is essential to our kids

On the surface, Great Explorations is a place to entertain children – it’s a cheerful, upbeat, noisy, and dynamic place. Beneath the surface, it’s a place where play is serious business. We believe that play is a necessity: play strengthens physical and motor development, enhances language learning, builds character and fosters strong relationships. Play is essential for school readiness, school achievement, and for life.
Great Explorations believes in using interactive educational opportunities to motivate ALL children to take a more active interest in learning, while looking at the world in creative and meaningful ways. One of the museum’s main focuses is accessibility, ensuring that low- and middle-income children and families as well as those with varying physical/developmental abilities, have equal opportunities to take part in transformational learning experiences.

These accessibility programs include, but are not limited to:

Museums for All: Families with EBT cards from any state are offered affordable museum passes (at a 70% discount) to encourage families of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly. During fiscal year 2019, 4,500 individuals benefitted from this program.

Museum InReach Field Trips: Over 5,641 participants visited the museum during 146 field trips in the last fiscal year, where unique multi-sensory approaches were used to explore the traditional classroom subjects taught in school. Over 1/3 of these field trips were offered at no cost to high-need groups and Title 1 schools (schools with the highest percentages of children from low-income families). The total number of participants served by field trips increased by 17% from the previous fiscal year.

Public Library Partnership: Any family with a library card at any Pinellas County library is able to “check out” museum passes at no charge, redeemable for 1 free visit per family. The program launched in May 2018, and has brought fun and joy to thousands of area families through 28 participating library locations.

Great Connections: This program was created to provide affordable museum access for families faced with mounting therapy and medical bills, costs for special equipment, and other expenses associated with raising a child with special needs. Great Connections provides these children and their families with exclusive access to the museum before regular operating hours with sensory-friendly accommodations (such as lowered lights and sounds) and specialized programming for children of all abilities. Admission is half-price (or in some cases, free).

Outreaches: The museum’s STEAM Team of educators takes learning on the road, bringing mobile versions of the museum’s programs directly into high-risk neighborhoods and low-performing schools to encourage students to see how fun learning can really be, and motivate them to invest in a higher education. In fiscal year 2019, Outreaches served 12,615 individuals (5,085 at school outreaches, 7,530 at neighborhood community outreaches).

Camps:  Camp programs provide enriching educational opportunities for children whenever school is not in session. Parents and caregivers can feel confident that their children are in a safe environment, experiencing hands-on innovative S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art and math) programming that aligns with school curricula, while having fun discovering the world around them. Quality care for 1 child for the summer can cost $2500 or more. For the last 3 years, Great Explorations has reserved a minimum of 10% of all camp seats for need-based scholarship campers.

Amid closure, Great Explorations Children’s Museum is unable to receive our usual revenue from museum admissions, field trips, birthday parties, and more— all essential streams of income that help us continue our Mission to stimulate learning through creativity, play, and exploration. As a non-profit organization, our revenue goes directly back into our accessibility programs, meaning that in these current unprecedented circumstances we will struggle to stay afloat until we can open our doors again.

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