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Collaborate to Advocate: The Power of Collective Voice

Monday, September 20th, 2021

By Michael McHorney, Children’s Museum of Eau Claire; Deb Gilpin, Madison Children’s Museum; Anne Snow, Children’s Museum of LaCrosse; Andrea Welsch, Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac

This article is part of the “The Power of We: Local/Regional Support Networks Flourish” issue of Hand to Hand. Click here to read other articles in the issue.

When hearing the name of our state, Wisconsin, non-residents typically associate our culture with beer and cheese. Yes, Wisconsin leads the nation in cheese production and often ranks at or near the top in per capita rankings for beer consumption. Wisconsin also ranks first nationally in the production of horseradish, ginseng, and cranberries and is known for producing butter, bratwursts, and corn. Wisconsin also leads the nation in something else: it has the most children’s museums per capita in the United States. Basically, you could say folks from Wisconsin live in a state of PLAY.

The value of a regional or state children’s museum network cannot be over-estimated. Many function as key sounding boards and support groups for museum practitioners scattered around a broad area. They can also harness the expertise and reach of member museums to develop a more powerful collective voice, one that can be harder to escape the notice of local government leaders. There is indeed strength in numbers.

Children’s museums in Wisconsin have long been engaged in collaborative efforts. An annual gathering, which began in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in 2009, has traveled the state ever since, increasing in participation and frequency. At these events, children’s museum professionals discuss thought-provoking ideas and share each other’s best practices. This collaboration, known as Wisconsin Children’s Museums (WICM) has resulted in greater quality for exhibits and programs and nearly doubled children’s museum traffic from just over 500,000 (2009) to nearly 1 million (2019). To assist in navigating the pandemic, WICM held virtual meetings almost weekly. Discussions concentrated on uncovering critical and necessary funding sources and sharing best practices around reopening.

In November 2020, after working together to research state funding opportunities, more than a dozen children’s museums shared a combined total of $650,000 in COVID relief funding from the Wisconsin Department of Administration. This modest portion of statewide funding, available to all arts and cultural organizations, helped some children’s museums in the state, but more support is needed. Recently, members of the group again put their heads together to create messages for their county executives, mayors/city managers, etc. A powerful letter, signed by the group, details how children’s museums play an essential role in healthy, thriving communities and asks for their support in allocating American Rescue Plan funds to keep museums alive. It is hoped that these latest joint communication efforts will lead to additional opportunities for Wisconsin children’s museums to collectively advance goals of the Department of Children and Families and Department of Education, as well as provide critical support for our community’s children as they are healing from the effects of the pandemic.

What started as a group meeting periodically to share best practices has evolved into a collaborative that meets bi-weekly to coordinate and discuss museum issues and trends. Our first statewide project in 2018 implemented the national initiative Prescription for Play (RX4P) through a state media campaign in cooperation with medical institutions and pediatricians.

Wisconsin children’s museums demonstrated how effective the statewide partnership can be in this campaign, which highlighted information released by the American Academy of Pediatrics about the importance of play to a child’s health and development. A plan created collaboratively by the Fond du Lac and Madison Children’s Museums was endorsed and supported by all thirteen children’s museums in the state. On a single day, the campaign reached more than 100,000 people through social media posts alone. In addition, approximately two dozen healthcare entities and local radio and television outlets joined forces to shed light on a topic that directly impacts social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development of children.

Collaborating with colleagues from around the state allowed us to effectively and creatively develop a unique Wisconsin Prescription for Play logo and press release that each museum could customize, resulting in sweatshirts, stickers, signage, and opportunities to incorporate expertise from physicians in our own communities. Working smarter, not harder, we reached more people in a more impactful way. These efforts were acknowledged by the Association of Children’s Museums, who invited us to present the results of our awareness campaign in a national webinar.

Andrea Welsch, Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac

Wisconsin Children’s Museums have moved from intermittent to consistent advocacy of play, starting through relationship building at our annual Children’s Museum Day at the Capitol. This became the foundation for realizing outcomes for positioning children’s museums as major partners of state government. In January 2019, Madison Children’s Museum hosted the Governor Evers’ Madison Kid’s Gala, and Michael McHorney was appointed by Governor Evers to the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board. In 2020, all children’s museums were successful in receiving COVID funding relief. These three examples were direct results of that initial relationship building.

Governor Evers leveraged our audience reach when he hosted three Inaugural Kid’s Galas across the state, in children’s sites, two of them children’s museums. In Madison, he funded a free Saturday at the museum, but he won us over when he held a press conference in the museum, but only took questions from kids. The press conference made it clear—the welfare of children would be front and center in his new administration.

Deb Gilpin, Madison Children’s Museum

Momentum has been building, but more work is needed. Moving forward, efforts will involve telling the story of children’s museums and how they are an essential part of a thriving community. And thriving communities mean a flourishing state of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin children’s museum group’s latest project involves a push to educate the citizens of Wisconsin on the inequities surrounding pandemic relief funding.

Over the past twenty-five years in the field, I have witnessed children’s museums evolve from “a nice thing to have” to being an important resource, not only to families but also to communities. Some of our largest employers use the museum as a recruiting tool. They bring potential new hires to visit the museum when touring the city. Our statewide network of children’s museums makes the state a great place to work and live.

Anne Snow, Children’s Museum of La Crosse

The value of a regional or state children’s museum network cannot be over-estimated. Many function as key sounding boards and support groups for museum practitioners scattered around a broad area. They can also harness the expertise and reach of member museums to develop a more powerful collective voice, one that can be harder to escape the notice of local government leaders. There is indeed strength in numbers. State networks like the Wisconsin Children’s Museums are showing the potential of strategic solidarity to support each other and advocate for the children and families in the communities they serve.

Michael McHorney is executive director of the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire; Deb Gilpin is president and CEO of Madison Children’s Museum; Anne Snow is founder and executive director of the Children’s Museum of La Crosse; and Andrea Welsch is the executive director of the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac. They are all located in Wisconsin.

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Bubble breathing, rock hunting: Fond du Lac kids learning to cope with post pandemic stress

Monday, July 5th, 2021

Sharon Roznik Fond du Lac Reporter

Zachary Lamb, 3, of Fond du Lac, learns to take deep breaths to blow bubbles as a stress coping mechanism at Children's Museum of Fond du Lac. A summer series, Mindfulness, Resiliency and Beyond, offers classes that help youth and adults build coping skills to help them reduce stress in light of increased mental and emotional health issues related to the pandemic.
Zachary Lamb, 3, of Fond du Lac, learns to take deep breaths to blow bubbles as a stress coping mechanism at Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac. A summer series, Mindfulness, Resiliency and Beyond, offers classes that help youth and adults build coping skills to help them reduce stress in light of increased mental and emotional health issues related to the pandemic. Courtesy of Kelly Lamb.

FOND DU LAC – Kelly Lamb sat beside her young son, Zachary, listening intently to a story about how to find a perfect rock.

The first step is to get quiet, then low to the ground to hunt at eye-level for a rock the perfect color, shape and size. There’s no asking for help, just take your time. The choice is yours.

The story was meant to help young minds find ways to intentionally calm themselves through grounding activities outdoors. Growing up under the shadow of a pandemic hasn’t been easy for anyone, Lamb related, and more children these days are feeling overwhelmed, but unable to express how they feel or cope.

“My son lost a year of interaction with other kids, and I thought this was meaningful for both of us, the concept of using the environment and nature to check out from any stress you may be feeling,” Lamb said.

The activity was held this month at the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac as part of a Mindfulness, Resiliency and Beyond summer series focused on youth. The free classes are designed to build resiliency against stress and boredom and are provided at the museum, the YMCA and Boys and Girls club through a partnership with Agnesian HealthCare.

Matt Doll, director of Agnesian HealthCare Outpatient Behavioral Health, said the program was developed in response to an ongoing mental health crisis, compounded by the pandemic. In 2020, the proportion of mental health-related visits for children ages 5 to 11 increased 24% from the previous year, according to the Centers for Diseases Control. In 12 to 17 years old, those visits increased 31%.

Such a significant increase in the need for more mental health services has overwhelmed the system, Doll said, and the summer series is way provide the general public with resources through community partnerships.

“It’s a way to reach more kids and help them help themselves through learning emotional, self-regulation techniques,” Doll said.

Anxiety is the predominant issue kids are wrestling with, Doll said, but it’s often hard for them to express how they are feeling because stress propels them into a “flight or fight” mode.

“It comes from how kids are viewing the world, it’s not as predictable as it once was and they see parents and adults are equally stressed,” Doll said. “Increased frustration in any household, when parents may not be agreeing, makes the world an uncertain and unsafe place.”

Danielle Falesnik, center back, an art therapist and counselor with Agnesian Health Care's Doll & Associates, reads a story at the Children's Museum to help younger kids develop ways to destress.  The class is part of a summer series, "Mindfulness, Resiliency and Beyond." offered at three locations this summer.
Danielle Falesnik, center back, and art therapist and counselor with Agnesian HealthCare,’s Doll & Associates, reads a story at the Children’s Museum to help younger kids develop ways to destress. This class is part of a summer series, “Mindfulness, Resiliency and Beyond” offered at three locations this summer. Courtesy of Kelly Lamb.

Young people are also dealing with the loss of activities that serve as rites of passage. Graduations, proms, birthday parties, field trips, sporting events were put on hold during the pandemic and Doll says these events are developmentally important to kids.

“Our children need a way forward through a new normal in ways we can keep each other safe. Our approach is to use art and music and other creative ways to help them express themselves and experience some joy,” he said.

Activities at each location are run by Danielle Falesnik, a new member of Agnesian HealthCare’s Doll & Associates team. Falesnik is an art therapist and professional counselor, with a passion for improving emotional wellness.

Bubble breathing, art therapy and mindful movement and play are classes offered at the Children’s Museum for kids ages 2 to 10. Museum director Andrea Welsch said she learned how her own 13-year-old daughter was feeling through participation in a permanent, evolving art display the museum is hosting, “Colors of the Pandemic.” The project invites the community to express themselves through an art piece in response to the pandemic.Read Local.As a subscriber, you will enjoy unlimited access to the news and information important to the community.

“Parents were given questions to ask and I did it with my daughter and a friend, and it helped me learn what she was going through,” Welsch said. “When we opened back in May, many families shares stories with me of concern about their children’s emotional health.” 

Fond du Lac Boys & Girls Club is offering classes to its student members ages 11 to 18 on how to develop healthy and resilient relationships and use art as a means to heal. The club’s new mental health specialist, Aly Sanders, said she’s been working with teens — both in groups and one-on-one — on resiliency and coming back together in groups after a period of isolation.

“I think once you build a rapport with these kids they definitely start to open up, and through social, emotional learning they are gaining skills they’ll be able to take with them through life,” Sanders said.

The YMCA’s classes are geared for adults and seniors to help navigate life changes and understand how these changes impact our overall wellbeing. 

Doll said the resiliency of the community to survive and thrive in the face of a global pandemic was made possible through partnerships, organizations and volunteers working together to make a difference.

“As individuals, we can continue to work on ways to cope and avoid what makes us feel emotionally unhealthy, like limiting the information we take in daily,” he said. “Those are the kinds of purposeful decisions we can make to help our brains calm down.”

Mindfulness, Resiliency and Beyond Classes

Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac (ages 2 to 10)

  • Bubble Breathing, 11 a.m., July 1
  • Art Therapy First Aid for Kids, 11 a.m., July 15 
  • 5 Senses Scavenger Hunt, 11 a.m., July 29
  • Mindful Movement and Play, 11 a.m., Aug. 12 

Fond du Lac Boys & Girls Club (Members age 11 to 18) 

  • Healthy and Resilient Relationships, 11 a.m.,  Aug. 5

Fond du Lac YMCA (adults and seniors)

  • Nothing is Normal: Everything is Weird, 11 a.m., July 8
  • Self-Care 101, 11 a.m., Aug. 19

Contact Sharon Roznik at 920-907-7936 or sroznik@gannett.com. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/reporterroz/

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Children’s museums in Fond du Lac, Sheboygan begin to reopen, time slots available

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

From Staff Reports USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Fond du Lac children’s Museum reopens after closing for pandemic. Members (and Welcome Back Pass holders) can come in any of four time slots with reservation.

FOND DU LAC – The Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac has partially reopened and is now accepting visit reservations.

The museum expects to provide reservation options through June 13 as part of a “Welcome Back Period,” it announced last week. It has partnered with Above & Beyond Children’s Museum of Sheboygan to bring this program to life. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, previous phases have allowed limited access to the museum’s spaces. The addition of weekend hours is based on a reopening plan that was approved by the organization’s board of directors as well as the local departments of public health.

“The caring and proactive thinking of our generous donors and the creativity of our staff has resulted in a collaborative Welcome Back Program that will support families while they are returning to our museums,” Andrea Welsch, executive director of the Fond du Lac museum, said in the announcement. 

Due to financial support from the Efroymson Family Foundation, National Exchange Bank Foundation and the Frank G & Frieda K Brotz Family Foundation, more than 1,600 families have received free “Welcome Back Passes” which provide admission to both museums.

Passes can also be purchased through the museum’s website, and are valid for the entire Welcome Back Period. Anyone experiencing financial hardship can have fees waived by submitting an “Every Child Every Family”

Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Two-hour time slots can be reserved by calling 920-929-0707 or online at cmfdl.org. 

Above & Beyond Children’s Museum is open 9 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Time slots can be reserved by calling 920-458-4263 or online at abkids.org. 

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Fond du Lac Children’s Museum re-opens after closing for pandemic

Monday, March 15th, 2021


16 PHOTOSKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids enter to play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids enter to play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINAngie Bodoh and Mark Brunelli of Fond du Lac look at a globe Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinAngie Bodoh and Mark Brunelli of Fond du Lac look at a globe Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN Kids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinKids play Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSINA sign advises to social distance Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children's Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinA sign advises to social distance Saturday, March 13, 2021 at the Fond du Lac Children’s Museum in Fond du Lac, Wis. The museum opens today to the public after being closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Doug Raflik/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin DOUG RAFLIK, USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN

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Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac Adds Weekend Hours

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

The Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac will be offering reservation options for members and the community from March 13 – June 13, during its “Welcome Back Period”, part of a collaborative program with the Above & Beyond Children’s Museum of Sheboygan. This timeframe marks Phase 4 for the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, previous phases have allowed limited access to its outdoor space and to its interior by private reservations. The addition of weekend hours is based on a reopening plan that was approved by the organizations’ board of directors as well as their local departments of public health. 

Due to generous financial support from the Efroymson Family Foundation, National Exchange Bank Foundation and the Frank G & Frieda K Brotz Family Foundation, over 1,600 families have received free “Welcome Back Passes”, which provide admission to both museums. Passes can also be purchased online for $45 through the museum’s website, and are valid for the entire Welcome Back Period. The museum seeks to welcome all children. Anyone experiencing financial hardship can have fees waived by submitting an “Every Child Every Family” application, which takes only a few minutes to complete. 

“The caring and proactive thinking of our generous donors and the creativity of our staff has resulted in a collaborative Welcome Back Program that will support families while they are returning to our museums,” noted Andrea Welsch, executive director of the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac. 

The March 13 reopening phase will incorporate limited attendance (beginning with 25%), new hours of operation and even more rigorous safety and sanitation measures. “We are so excited that this partnership program will support children and families and help them feel comfortable and safe in our spaces once again,” added Jackie Erdman , executive director of Above & Beyond. 

To reserve your “2 hours of fun” timeslots, or for more information, visit cmfdl.org or abkids.org. Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac 

● Saturdays and Sundays 9:00am – 4:00pm 

● “Two Hours of Fun” reservations, limited to 30 guests per time slot. 

● 920-929-0707 / cmfdl.org 

Above & Beyond Children’s Museum 

● Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays: 9-11am and 12:30-2:30pm 

● **Limited to 30 guests per time slot** 

● 920-458-4263 / abkids.org 

Children and their families will be able to return to the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac on weekends, beginning March 13. To reserve your spot, go to cmfdl.org. COVID-19 precautions, including limited attendance and rigorous safety and sanitization procedures have been implemented.
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Children’s Museum’s Black History Month Display travels to area school.

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

In celebration of Black History Month, the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac (CMFDL) lent its display to St Mary’s Springs Academy (SMSA).  The display features notable figures in American history who made a significant impact, including authors, inventors, civil rights activists, and more. The highlighted heroes include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Madame C.J. Walker, George Washington Carver, Garrett Morgan, Thurgood Marshall, and former President Barack Obama, among many others. The larger than life sized images and educational panels were complemented by dozens of literature pieces, which were donated to SMSA by families and friends.  

“This exhibit supported our students by providing auditory, visual and tactile experiences for them to learn about our country’s amazing black leaders.  We were grateful for the opportunity to share this with our students”, commented Nichole Rusniazcek, SMSA Media Specialist.  

The Black History Month Display was also featured in CMFDL’s “Museum Fun From Home” offerings, a new line of service developed in response to the pandemic. Families can enjoy more educational resources provided by this display by visiting the CMFDL’s website and searching the museum’s Facebook display.  

“The Black History Month Display, along with our “Tashi Deley” initiative and free program materials make it easy for grown-ups to share meaningful and relevant education with children as well as to encourage them to connect with people of all races and backgrounds and to celebrate diversity”, added Andrea Welsch, CMFDL Executive Director.   

During the 2020/2021 school year, CMFDL has been partnering with schools on a variety of levels including sharing educational materials, displays and even physical learning space, by renting out its facility to the Treffert Way for the Exceptional Mind Charter school.  Beginning March 13, families will be welcomed back into the facility using a weekend reservation system. For more information, visit cmfdl.org.

Students from Amanda Johnson’s 3rd Grade Class at St Mary’s Springs Academy engaged in learning provided by a Black History Month Display on loan from the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac.  For more information, visit cmfdl.org. Photo Credit: Rebecca Garcia
Students from Amanda Johnson’s 3rd Grade Class at SMSA enjoyed a Black History Month Display on loan from the Children’s Museum to learn about influential people such as Maya Angelou and many others during the month of February. For more information, visit cmfdl.org. Photo Credit: Rebecca Garcia
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‘Tashi Deley:’ Fond du Lac community launches initiative on honoring others, celebrating differences

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Daphne Lemke Fond du Lac Reporter

FOND DU LAC – “Tashi Deley” is a Tibetan greeting that author Rebecca Braden, the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac and Sophia Transformative Leadership Partners are using to encourage participants to celebrate the beauty of diversity.

Rather than “hello,” the saying (pronounced Taa-SHE Duh-LAY) translates to “I honor the greatness in you,” according to Braden’s children’s book, “Sanjaygawa and the Yak Whisperer.”

The Children’s Museum launched the Tashi Deley initiative as this month’s installment of its regular educational fun kits, but the message and impact will last long after February’s over. 

The kit includes one copy of “Sanjaygawa and the Yak Whisperer” per household, plus one resource packet per child, which includes four written activity sheets and materials for a hands-on craft project.

The Children's Museum of Fond du Lac launched an initiative in February around the phrase "Tashi Deley," a Tibetan greeting that means "I honor the greatness in you." Rebecca Braden's book "Sanjaygawa and the Yak Whisperer" is a main focus.
The Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac launched an initiative in February around the phrase “Tashi Deley,” a Tibetan greeting that means “I honor the greatness in you.” Rebecca Braden’s book “Sanjaygawa and the Yak Whisperer” is a main focus.

The Tashi Deley initiative is offered in collaboration with Sophia Transformative Leadership Partners, a Fond du Lac nonprofit organization that guides local servant leaders — leaders whose philosophy is to serve their industry by sharing power and focusing on employees’ or members’ needs — with learning programs and tools.

“(Tashi Deley) really means, ‘I honor the place in you,’ where your hopes, your dreams, your love and your courage reside,” Braden said in an interview with Sophia Transformative Leadership Partners, published on its YouTube channel. “I honor that place in you, where if you’re in that place with you, and I’m in that place with me, then we’re one.”

Braden’s book tells the story of a young shepherdess in the Colorado Rockies that whispers “wonderings” to her yaks, and one day, she wonders something that prompts her favorite yak, Sanjaygawa, to finally answer her. 

The yak encourages the shepherdess to teach the “Young Ones” to respect and honor the greatness in themselves and everyone around them, regardless of their differences.

Using this message, the Children’s Museum and local educators are encouraging the same in the community and beyond.

“Truly, change in this world starts with the children,” Marketing and Communications Manager Kelly Lamb said.

Kits are available at the Children’s Museum, 75 W. Scott St., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, and from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Additionally, Sophia Partners is hosting this month’s virtual Community of Practice sessions with Braden, including the Leaders do Lunch event at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, discussing the connection of “Tashi Deley” to servant leadership.

Registration is available at sophiapartners.org/events.

‘Tashi Deley’ will spread beyond February

The Children’s Museum and Sophia Partners were not unfamiliar with Braden and her book, as Braden had previously been a guest at Sophia Partners as a servant leader herself. The stars seemed to have aligned for this initiative to be launched now, Lamb said, when the community needs a reminder to honor the greatness in others.

The book is written as a “story of hope for Young Ones of all ages,” according to the title page, because its message is helpful to adults as well. As part of the initiative, parents are encouraged to read the book to their children and help them through the activities so that they also internalize the need to honor and celebrate the differences in others.

Beyond families, this initiative is coming to local classrooms as well, Lamb said. In a few pilot classrooms, partnering educators will implement the Tashi Deley activity kit curriculum in their lessons. From there, the initiative can adjust and expand into classrooms and children’s museums outside of Fond du Lac.

In a time when the Children’s Museum can’t host field trips and children aren’t able to go many places, the Tashi Deley activities allow for continued engagement in a creative way, especially since it ties strongly into the existing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, Executive Director Andrea Welsch said.

The pilot classrooms include first- and third-grade classes at Mayville and Lomira elementary schools and St. Mary’s Springs Academy, as well as Treffert Way School for the Exceptional Mind. Participating educators can use the book and activities as a resource to supplement their curriculum goals.

Tiffany Dolan of Treffert Way is one of the participating educators, and will use the materials with her second- through fifth-graders during part of her morning advisory time.

“In class, we have recently been focusing on gratitude and happiness,” she said. “I think my students will enjoy the lessons, focusing on what makes others great and how we can help and honor others to find success and happiness.”

In the community, local “Activity Ambassadors” are also contributing through a series of interviews, each corresponding with one of the written activities, that will be streamed on the Children’s Museum’s Facebook page.

Braden is one of these ambassadors, and is joined by Keywon Brown, Fond du Lac Police Department’s Computer Forensic Investigator and founder of volunteer project Life Enforcement, which focuses on selfless acts of kindness to make a difference in the community.

Fond du Lac Literary Services Coordinator Juana Montes-Hernandez and local band Northsoul member Travis Worth will also lend their thoughts in inspiring the community to learn about recognizing and honoring the greatness in others.

“One thing children’s museums are known for in the community is teaching kids about social issues,” Welsch said. “Tashi Deley will inspire these kind of conversations.”

For anyone who can’t make it to the Children’s Museum this month, the activity sheets are available on cmfdl.org, alongside a recording of Braden reading “Sanjaygawa and the Yak Whisperer.”

Contact Daphne Lemke at 920-907-7968 or dlemke@gannett.com.

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Salvation Army of Fond du Lac Red Kettles to benefit from $100,000 Red Kettle Match

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

FOND DU LAC – The Salvation Army of Fond du Lac’s 130th Red Kettle Campaign launched in crisis for the first time in its history with fewer kettle locations, fewer bell ringers and less store traffic threaten the iconic fundraiser. 

To help, West Shore Group, Inc., Osborn & Son Trucking and an anonymous donor have pledged the largest Red Kettle Match in the history of Fond du Lac — the three will match up to $100,000 of Red Kettle directed donations made:

  • Online to the virtual Red Kettles at safdl.org and/or radioplusinfo.com by Dec. 31
  • At Red Kettle locations: Festival Foods, Fleet Farm, Walgreens, Pick ‘n’ Save, Faris Gourmet popcorn, Philly’s on Fourth St., Piggly Wiggly, Walmart, Kristmas Kringle Shop and counter-sized red kettles locations through Dec. 24.
  • 6 to 11 a.m. Dec. 18 at the Donut forget to Donate collection, Dunkin’ Donuts, 735 W. Johnson St.
  • Donations can be received at 237 N. Macy St. earmarked Red Kettle through Dec. 31
  • Text FDLKettle to 24365

Funds fuel Fond du Lac County’s largest food pantry and summer Brown Bag Lunch giveaway; the County’s only winter warming shelter; free youth programs and summer camps; Fond du Lac’s oldest Christmas toy, food and gift outreach, an emergency disaster assistance program that is playing a vital role in helping Fond du Lac households overcome the crippling impact of COVID-19.. 

The match doubles the proceeds generated from local businesses joining forces and leveraging their products to help the Red Kettles. Faris Gourmet Popcorn & Treats creates a signature Cherry Red Kettle Corn and donates proceeds to the kettles, and Papa John’s Pizza of Fond du Lac donates proceeds of every online order with promo code: SARMY30. 

Maj. Jon Welch holds up a Kettle Cash coupon donated by a child who is learning the value of sharing from the  financial literacy program created by Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac and Verve, a Credit Union. Children choose to spend, save or share with this year’s Red Kettle Campaign and Verve turns each coupon into $1 which the match doubles.
Maj. Jon Welsch holds up a Kettle Cash coupon donated by a child who is learning the value of sharing from the financial literacy program created by Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac and Verve, a Credit Union. Children choose to spend, save, or share with this year’s Red Kettle Campaign and Verve turns each coupon into $1 which the match doubles. Courtesy of Connie Millard

Every Kettle Cash coupon from the financial literacy program created by Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac and Verve, A Credit Union that’s dropped in a red kettle will be matched as well.

“This community is a blessing,” said Maj. Jon Welch. “Working together, we can rescue Christmas and restore hope.”

For more information, visit The Salvation Army Facebook page or safdl.org. Also, volunteer to bell ring at registertoring.com or call 920-923-8220.

Volunteers help The Salvation Army prepare to distribute toys, food and gifts to fill an unprecedented 1,700 children’s Christmas wish lists and the holiday needs of almost 700 families.
Volunteers help The Salvation Army prepare to distribute toys, food and gifts to fill an unprecedented 1,700 children’s Christmas wish lists and holiday needs of almost 700 families. Courtesy of Connie Millard
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