Kids in COVID: Our Community's Youngest Heroes
A virtual exhibit about Kidzu’s response to the pandemic, including reflections from families. Kidzu is transitioning our Courtyard into an exhibit all about children in our community – titled, “Kids in COVID: Our Community’s Youngest Heroes.” This webpage is a virtual version of the exhibit! This exhibit encourages children and families to reflect on the resilience of our community during the pandemic, to submit narratives about how they felt empowered during their pandemic, and it will provide valuable activities and resources for caregivers and children on how to practice mindfulness and prioritize their mental health.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kidzu Children’s Museum, like many other schools, businesses, and local institutions, had to close its doors in mid-March 2020 as part of a global health response to slow the spread of COVID-19. Hospital beds were quickly filled, schools and daycare centers shut down, playdates and birthday parties were indefinitely postponed, and normal pre-pandemic life seemed very distant. While we reflect back on the resilience of our community during the pandemic, it is essential to remember that children are our community’s youngest heroes.
Kidzu's Heart of the Hive
In an effort to maintain the connection with our community while apart in 2020, the Kidzu team developed and provided individually packaged craft kits with a wide range of craft materials that children could create with. Kids created their own personal hexagons and then sent them back to the museum to be displayed as part of our community hive, showing that we could still “bee” together even when apart.
The Virtual Museum
While our museum was closed for 8 months, Kidzu staff launched a virtual museum on our website called Kidzu@Home. We took our in-person programming and created virtual, open-access options. Kidzu@Home included free activity guides, STEM-based videos, live programming, multilingual storytimes, and other ways to support caregivers and educators.
As soon as museums and schools closed, Kidzu began to work together with hunger relief and social service agencies to offer a printable and bilingual (English and Spanish) version of our virtual resources to go home with meals across our county, called “MindSnacks.” These resources provide families without reliable Internet access to our educational offerings. Each MindSnack contains educational activities that can be incorporated into daily routines or done with inexpensive household items.
Many childcare centers and daycares closed due to the pandemic, so more caregivers were staying at home with their children, seeking ways to incorporate valuable educational experiences into their routines. In March 2020, Kidzu became the first Orange County affiliate of the Kaleidoscope Play and Learn (KPL) curriculum, the gold-standard for playgroups that serve children ages 0-3 and their caregivers. Kidzu began hosting virtual supported playgroups utilizing the KPL curriculum in the Fall of 2020, and have continued to build a community of support for Orange County children ages 0-3 and their caregivers.
Welcoming You Back Safely
The museum launched a phased reopening beginning on November 4, 2020, cautiously increasing capacity throughout 2021 with a thorough health and safety plan. Kidzu hosted free, Outdoor Garden Parties in collaboration with many local community partners during the Spring of 2021.
Area schools returned to in-person teaching in March 2021, while still allowing many students to continue virtual or hybrid school. Re-entry came with many different challenges and emotions for students, educators, and caregivers. As schools fully welcomed students back into the classroom, Kidzu began offering both in-school and at-Kidzu STEM field trips to better serve all schools in our area. Our open-access, virtual offerings are still available, supporting both caregivers and educators as we all return back to in-person modes.
Reflections from our Community
The pandemic affected each of us differently, with some families and communities impacted more than others. The past two years have shown us all the importance of our community and helping one another in creative ways. We have featured stories from local families, as well as resources to support families during these times. See more stories in our exhibit!
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