by Jenn Bradford
For 26 years, WOW! Children’s Museum has offered a safe, welcoming place for Boulder County children to play and learn. This year, they unveiled their new mission to inspire every child’s learning and curiosity through play. The museum offers hands-on exhibits and play spaces designed for early childhood curiosity, and social and educational development. They also offer story times, sensory friendly play days, school day off and summer camps, and programs for children under 3 years of age.
Play is necessary for child development and WOW! takes pride in providing a place for all children, regardless of background or abilities, to learn through play. It is a place where children from any background—whether they are non-English speakers, have different abilities, or have a non-traditional family—are welcome and belong. “We are proud of the Play for All Initiative,” Executive Director, Joanna Cagan, says, “It informs everything we do.” The Play for All Initiative includes a $10 per year membership fee for families utilizing any form of public assistance, or families who have been significantly impacted by the recent Marshall Fire. Currently, over 30% of WOW!’s membership base takes part in this initiative.
WOW! was an Social Venture Partners Boulder County Catapult program recipient from 2016 to 2019. Though that was just before Joanna took over leadership of the museum, she says the participation “fundamentally changed how we thought about internal processes and procedures. It professionalized the board and enabled strategic thinking and planning we needed.” She adds that the most important benefit of Catapult is “taking part in building bigger, incredibly helpful relationships—long beyond the intensive participation experience. I don’t think we would be in the position we are today without Catapult and SVP’s expertise.”
Today, after two years of restrictions and shutdowns, WOW! is welcoming back children and families. The museum is back to “normal” capacity Tuesday- Saturday but closed between 12-1 p.m. each day for deep cleaning. Masks are required for everyone over 2 years of age all day on Wednesdays and on Saturday afternoons; they are optional all other days. From the beginning of the pandemic, WOW! has worked closely with Boulder County Public Health to ensure it follows the best practices for the safety of its visitors. “We recognize how important play is for families and children,” states Joanna, “perhaps now more than ever.”
There are many ways to get involved with the museum including helping in the garden, reading at story time, Spanish translation, event planning, and more. To volunteer visit the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can be made on the website, or for sponsorship information, contact Carly Sargent-Knudson, Director of Community Giving, at Carly@wowchildrensmuseum.org.