What do a kid-friendly Valley Health ambulance, an interactive digestive
tract and a poison dart frog have in common? They are all exhibits at the
Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, one of Valley Health’s community partners in advancing health and
Much of the museum’s first floor is devoted to exhibits about health
and the human body. Children visit a doctor’s office, crawl through
intestines, look inside the human body with an “x-ray” machine,
learn how vision is “tricked” by optical illusions, and listen
to a heart-beating drum. Financial and in-kind gifts from Valley Health
and other local healthcare providers support these and other interactive
displays designed to “spark curiosity & inspire learning through
exploration & creative play,” as stated in the museum’s mission.
One of the first sights museum visitors see is the retired ambulance, donated
by Valley Medical Transport, which has been retrofitted as a hands-on,
“Kids love the ambulance and it allows them to engage with the emergency
vehicle in a non-threatening, non-scary setting,” states museum educator, Jennifer Coleman.
“The children have a positive experience, which can help them if
they ever encounter an ambulance in a real emergency situation.”
Sensory Friendly Nights increase accessibility for families with special needs
Thanks to an innovative idea from Valley Health occupational therapist
Molly Connor-Hall, the Discovery Museum holds
Sensory Friendly Nights for children with special needs; the next evening
event will be held this Thursday, May 2, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Working with Coleman, time will be set aside when lighting, noise-levels
and other special accommodations are made.
“These free evening events are a wonderful opportunity when kids
with physical and cognitive challenges can enjoy the museum experience,” notes Diane Schnoor, PhD, lead educator at the museum.
“In fact, there are families who come from three hours away so their
children have the same fun and educational opportunities as other kids.”
“The next-generation of doctors, nurses, therapists and other caregivers
live in our homes and attend local schools,” notes Jeffrey Feit, MD, Valley Health’s VP of Population Health
and a member of the Discovery Museum board.
“Partnering with the museum to offer interactive health- and science-focused
exhibits sparks interest in our youth and is a natural fit for our health
system. Health care all too frequently enters children’s lives in
a way that is scary. We need to make it fascinating and we need to make
it fun. Who knows, the next Jonas Salk or Florence Nightingale may visit
the Discovery Museum this week!”
For more information on Valley Health’s work with community partners, visit
valleyhealthlink.com/communitybenefit, and visit
discoverymuseum.net for information on
Sensory Friendly Nights and other museum activities.