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Albion children's museum opens new Oaklawn-sponsored health exhibit

ALBION – Young children now can take a stroll down Wellness Avenue to learn how to stay safe at home, through a new interactive exhibit at Kids ‘N’ Stuff Children’s Museum.


A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 6 launched the new exhibit inside the museum at 301 S. Superior St. It features a comfortably airy, colorful, home-like environment created with the support of Marshall-based Oaklawn Hospital and the Oaklawn Medical Group.


The exhibit is designed to generate conversations between parents and their young children – early learners and those who are just learning to read – stimulated by such open-ended questions as “How do I dress for the weather,” “How much sleep do children need,” “How am I feeling today” and “How often do I use good manners at the table?”


“It sparks their brains to make different connections … so children can start to think a little deeper into things,” said Donisha Brewer, an Albion native and Adrian College graduate who serves as the museum’s operations manager.


“We want to develop a culture of inquiry so children are asking questions, parents are asking questions – and that way, people can learn more,” Brewer said.


“We know when we’re outside how to be safe, but at home there are a lot of things that children – especially non-readers – may not be aware of,” Brewer said. “If we can get them to think about those things here, then when they go home, that can continue.”


During their tour around the exhibit, children will come across several different stops where they will learn about what makes up healthy meal portions, the difference between medicine and candy, how to use an automobile booster seat, how to wash one’s hands effectively and even how to practice making an emergency telephone call.


The emergency-call stop focuses on equipment simulating a call to a 911 operator, and children can learn how to properly respond to the questions that are asked during a crisis, Brewer said. The equipment was donated by State Farm Insurance agent Mark Putvin of Albion.


Practice using such equipment could help save lives, said Audrey Dean, executive director of the facility.


The overall concept for the new exhibit was generated by Dean in conjunction with Sheila Davis of A2Z Brand and a team of Oaklawn representatives, including Mike Beck, Oaklawn’s executive director of development.


“Kids ‘N’ Stuff is a wonderful and exciting part of life in Albion,” said Oaklawn President and CEO Ginger Williams. “When my family has come to visit over the years, I loved to watch my daughter play with the exhibits. I know how important it is to reach out to children and help them learn in this way.


“It’s our goal at Oaklawn to help this superb attraction in Albion grow over time, and develop into a facility that offers even greater opportunities for young people to learn about good health, Williams said.


“We couldn’t be happier with the hospital’s support for us, and we hope to continue that relationship,” Dean said.


“We at the museum are so excited because we know this will teach children healthy habits and let them have fun while learning,” said Barb Cooke, chair of the museum’s board of directors. “This will inspire children to take a greater interest in what they’re eating and what their activities mean to their overall well-being.”


Kids ‘N’ Stuff has served area residents for 13 years. More information about the museum is available at kidsnstuff.org or by calling (517) 629-8023. More information about Oaklawn may be found at oaklawnhospital.org.