This past weekend we got to return to Boston Children’s Museum for their Morningstar Access program, only this was for the evening edition!
We’ve attended several mornings of the program since that windswept November day that initiated us in its wonders but we’d not had a chance to enjoy the evening version. The evening version, usually on a weekend, is a rare treat offered by the museum to reach out to families for whom mornings might be near impossible. I cannot state how wonderful I find this program and how much I wish more cultural institutions could implement similar access programs for children and adults that require additional supports.
The museum was quiet when we arrived, refreshed after a full day of visitors had ended an hour previous to our arrival. This allowed the museum to be peaceful, inside and out. The usual things that we braced ourselves to struggle with at the end of morning visits were not in evidence: there were no crowds, there were no lines, and there would be none of these things for our entire visit. We would not have to worry about any tears, and that kind of blew me away.
J, who is very confident around the museum now, marched in like he owned the place. He knew we buy our tickets, we place our things in a locker (even any stuffed buddies who join us) and then we go play. It was one of the first times I have been able to truly appreciate the beauty of what Morningstar Access offers to the children and families attending.
J and a lot of children with various disabilities do not just struggle with public spaces due to the fact that they’re overwhelmed beyond that which they may be able to handle. There’s the physical access part, and the fact that the general public is not always very kind or understanding to situations they have not considered. It leaves children and families like ours to be left feeling alienated and cast aside, unable to enjoy what everyone else does easily. This doesn’t happen during these beautiful 2 hours a month at the Boston Children’s Museum. I do not feel it overstating to express wonder and gratitude for this. I watched not just my son but several other children as well be able to access the space freely and by whatever means they needed. A child in a wheelchair was free to bust loose of her chair and move herself about however she felt comfortable to fully explore a construction exhibit, her energy and joy radiating for those around her to enjoy. My own son didn’t get shooed away from the water tables in his favorite exhibit or away from the train tables in the little kids area because everyone there just got what he was up to and saw no reason for issue with him lingering doing the same thing again and again. He was laughing and having fun, why break what works?
These moments of real, true freedom to be who they are within a supportive environment are things that need to become more common. We love the Boston Children’s Museum deeply for this program, even when we can’t attend, and hope that it carries on for years to come. I hope other museums and landmarks can learn from a program like this, and what it means to us.