In 2009, the Museum received support from the Institute for Museum and Libraries Service and funding from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, for its Early Childhood Obesity Prevention project to adapt the National Institutes of Health’s We Can! curriculum for young children and parents. The result was the EatPlayGrow™ curriculum and a popular exhibit, EatSleepPlay™ that focused on helping families make healthy food and lifestyle choices.
In partnership the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and Union Settlement Association, the Museum kicked off a pre-K community initiative in 2013 at the Union Johnson Early Learning Center and Head Start facility in East Harlem’s Johnson Houses Community. It was the first such effort in public housing to transform community sites in high-need neighborhoods into early childhood health and literacy “learning hubs,” and to build adult caregivers’ knowledge of early child development to complement pre-K education. Hub content is based on the Museum’s early childhood exhibition, PlayWorks™ as well as from EatSleepPlay™.
Following positive response, the Museum received a grant in 2014 from the Morgan Stanley Foundation to expand its early childhood health and literacy initiative to additional early childhood centers operated by Union Settlement. The resulting Health and Learning Hubs are designed to reach low-income children at high risk with important health messages. The initiative also ensures the messages are consistent across school, community, and home. Hubs include permanent museum-quality graphics and interactive exhibitry installed in classrooms and public spaces. The Museum also offers participating sites professional development programs for educators, weekly programs for children and parents, fun free festivals at the Museum and an accessible website to ensure the EatPlayGrow™ curriculum is widely available. This community-based pilot model has proven to be a positive influence on behavior and attitudes.
By late 2015, the Museum had established a total of 14 hubs in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan: eight in NYC Department of Education Head Start daycare centers, five in homeless shelters, and one at NYC’s Administration for Children’s Service intake office in downtown Manhattan. A $250,000 Youth Wellness Grant from Target Corporation in 2016 added ten more health and learning hubs to NYC Department of Homeless Services’ homeless and domestic violence shelters, bringing the total number of hubs across the city to 24, with locations in all five boroughs.
Head Starts Union Carver Day Care Center | Metro North Day Care Center | Union Settlement Head Start at Franklin Plaza | James Weldon Johnson Center | Union Washington Day Care Center | Pequeños Souls Day Care | Leggett Memorial Day Care Center
Family Shelters CRF-House East, LLC | Abyssinian House | West End Intergenerational Residence
Administration Center Administration Children’s Services Intake Center
Head Starts Mott Haven Center
Family Shelters Town & Country | Victor Family Residence
Administration Center PATH Family Intake
Family Shelters Albemarle Family Residence | Kianga House | Flatlands Family Residence
Family Shelter Hospitality House
Family Shelters Jamaica Family Residence Center | Saratoga Family Inn | Boulevard Family Residence
*Please note we have not identified the locations of two domestic violence family shelters.