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NJHS receives AAM award for Teen Parent Program


The New Jersey Historical Society has been awarded the 2002 Award for “Excellence in Programming” from the American Association of Museums Education Committee.

The program cited — “Partners in Learning: Teen Parents and Their Children at Museums” — is a model collaborative community initiative, which introduces young parents and their children to cultural institutions, encouraging them to make visiting a regular part of their lives. The judges looked for models of creativity and innovation in museum education when reviewing the programs nominated for this award.

Claudia Ocello, Curator of Education at The New Jersey Historical Society, accepted the award with Maribel Jusino-Iturralde, Community Programs Coordinator, at AAM’s Annual Meeting and Museum Expo 2002 in Dallas, TX this month.

In its fourth year, the program consists of eight sessions, where parents learn to interact positively with their children in cultural institutions, using the resources of various museums and libraries to learn together. The program extends beyond the walls of the Historical Society. The participants also visit the main Newark Public Library and the Newark Museum — but only after they’ve phoned ahead and found out policies as they pertain to children. Getting answers to questions that make their visits easier — about programs for youngsters or even amenities such as diaper-changing stations — is just one example of the skills taught during the workshops so that parents can make the most out of their museum visits.

Touted as one of the nation’s most inventive educational programs, the program was designed as a model for other cultural institutions to emulate. To further this goal, the Historical Society recently published First Steps: A Scrapbook and Guide for Young Parents, Museums, and Community Partners. The book, which outlines the steps to creating a similar program and at the same time is a memory book for participants, is available for purchase in the History Shop at the Historical Society.

“We are providing adolescent parents with the skills and confidence to use non-traditional educational resources — museums, libraries, and historical societies — in their communities and we hope that they will make these institutions a regular part of their lives with their children,” said Sally Yerkovich, President and CEO of The New Jersey Historical Society.

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