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Faculty and Students Help Make Children's Museum More Accessible

Logan Haworth loves to know how things work. The 7-year-old Richmonder relishes programming apps on his laptop and exploring museums, especially the Children’s Museum of Richmond (CMoR).

Instead of playing with the exhibits at CMoR, Logan often peeks around the back of them or looks inside to find out where a ball came from or how one component works with the next. A new car exhibit with removable parts is perfect for this, according to Shannon Haworth, Logan’s mother.

When Logan visits places like the museum, it’s fun, stimulating and educational – all of the things it should be — but sometimes it’s also a little too much.

Logan experiences challenges due to autism, sensory processing disorder and ADHD. When the lights get too bright or the other kids get too loud, he needs time to sit alone or with his mom and regulate himself.

Supported by a 2012-2013 VCU Community Engagement Grant, a group of VCU faculty and students have been working with CMoR staff to assess and adapt the physical and learning environment of the museum and to develop training to support the engagement of young children with disabilities and their families.

The project brought together eight faculty and staff members and 57 students from the School of Education and the School of Allied Health Professions. Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and Children’s Hospital Foundation personnel also participated in various aspects, including serving on the project’s advisory board. The project has continued and expanded beyond the original grant to become an ongoing partnership with the museum.

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