Sping 2014 - Take a Trip to WakeMed at Marbles
The WakeMed ambulance at Marbles Kids Museum has been on the move and is now located in the center of the Around Town exhibit. The move came along with a number of enhancements that help children learn more about what to do and expect if they need to see a doctor.
“Our big goal is to promote learning through play, so we are always looking to add new elements to a child’s experience at Marbles,” said Maureen Holdsworth, director of exhibit programs at Marbles Kids Museum. “We spend time observing what areas kids are most attracted to, what offers the most engaging play and what allows them to really get into their play.”
The Marbles team found that most kids want to engage in checkup and patient play near or inside the ambulance. That prompted the museum’s design team to move all the related hospital and health activity options together in a more central area.
During the move, authentic equipment was donated by WakeMed and altered as needed for safety. “With input from WakeMed, our design team added a lot of visual details to make the ambulance look even more realistic,” said Holdsworth. “It’s so real, and we see a lot of good role playing going on in that area.”
The Marbles team met with experts at WakeMed to learn more about what messages are important for kids to receive, and a visit to the Children’s Emergency Department helped identify what additional equipment pieces could be incorporated for safe and healthy play lessons.
“In the improved exhibit, kids can do everything from drive the ambulance to help care for an infant. They can even check vitals and see an EKG,” said Anna Ward, child life specialist, WakeMed’s Children’s Emergency Department.
Reducing Fears & Exploring Careers
There is a lot of natural role playing in the health and hospital exhibit at Marbles. “By playing doctor or patient, kids’ fears can be reduced,” said Ward. “Plus they might learn about something they want to do when they grow up.”
“Between ages 3 and 7, children begin to role play as caretaker,” said Holdsworth. At Marbles children can wrap babies in blankets, check Xrays, use a stethoscope, bandage a patient, put on a lab coat and let their imaginations drive a fun learning experience.
“We see a lot of parents ending up in the patient role on a stretcher with their children reassuring them,” said Holdsworth. “The kids are learning about compassion, figuring out how to be more in control and learning about basic care equipment.” The hospital exhibit lets children explore the idea of being in an ambulance or hospital without it being scary. “The slightest exposure to a simulated ambulance environment can help if they ever have to experience that in real life,” said Holdsworth.
911 Lesson for the Whole Family
Marbles has added a realistic 911 phone call practice experience to the ambulance exhibit. “WakeMed was a great partner and helped guide that play experience with real first responder perspective for scripting,” said Holdsworth. “There are large buttons to prompt them to dial 911, and the children are asked important things such as their address.”
Families are encouraged to pay attention to what their child is learning at Marbles and continue that conversation after they leave. Parents can talk to their kids about their Marbles play day, reinforce emergency safety steps and practice at home.
By exposing them to a glimpse of things that could arise, everyone can be more prepared.