Can a visit to CMEE be therapeutic? Lois Silverman certainly suggests it should be in her book, The Social Work of Museums. “With their unique resources,” she writes, “museums have a powerful role to play as agents of social service. Social work is the profession that truly understands how to strengthen human relationships and foster social change. Together, there is much transformative work to be done.”
Silverman urges all museum professionals to think of themselves as social workers. And, just like professional social workers, museum staff should make learning about the wants and needs of visitors a priority and then develop strategies to address them.
How might CMEE play a more active role in providing social services to the East End community? One way is by hosting bereavement services for children. We’ve teamed up with Katy’s Courage to create Katy’s Kids. Beginning this fall, children who are grieving the loss of a loved one will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a counselor in the exhibit galleries here at the Museum. You can learn more about the program in the Sag Harbor Express.
What about children in need of therapeutic services for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Unfortunately, only a small number of museums currently provide these services and those that do tend to limit them to a weekly “Sensory Night.” But why limit children on the spectrum to one specific time? To allow children with an ASD to come to CMEE whenever it’s convenient, our Museum Educators are currently receiving training from the Institute for Children with Autism and Related Disorders. This training will enable us to provide personal, facilitated visits for the children and their families.
In addition to Katy’s Kids and therapeutic services for children with a spectrum disorder, CMEE has partnered with Kids Thrive to provide occupational therapy at the Museum. This partnership will include services like kindergarten readiness, pre-school confidence, handwriting support, and the development of fine motor, strength, and coordination skills.
We’d love to hear from you about what additional therapeutic services you think are needed on the East End. If you have a moment, we invite you to fill out our online survey. We’re eager to identify and explore ways in which we can address the pressing needs of families on the East End. It is only be actively addressing these needs that CMEE’s impact on the community will be measurable and long-lasting.
Steve Long, Executive Director