Building Community Connections: Youth Education at Local Museums
The Ottawa Museum Network works throughout the community to engage people in the Greater Ottawa story. Through its group of ten museums, the network brings local history alive by sharing and preserving many of Ottawa’s richest and most interesting heritage sites and collections. Over the summer of 2010, in partnership with the Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres of Ottawa, the OMN undertook an innovative pilot project called Building Community Connections.
Building Community Connections was undertaken to create new kinds of opportunities for children and youth to access Ottawa’s local museums. Many young people in Ottawa never have the opportunity to visit museums or learn about local heritage. In some cases, transportation and costs are barriers; in other cases, families are not aware of the vibrant museums located in their own communities. This project sought to overcome all of those barriers.
The OMN organized six excursion days in which participants from 10 community health and resource centre learned about Ottawa’s heritage at its local museums. Participants discovered the vibrancy of Ottawa’s cultural heritage, developed a stronger sense of local identity and built new relationships with their peers. The project also represents a new bond between the cultural heritage sector and social services organizations.
Through a generous grant from the Ontario Cultural Strategic Investment Fund, participation in the program was free for the participants. Meanwhile, staff from the community centres and the OMN donated hundreds of hours in-kind to help realize the project. Krackers Katering, a non-profit social catering business, generously donated healthy lunches for the project.
“Being able to visit local historical sites brings kids out of their ‘bubble’ and allows them to see another side to Ottawa that they are likely not familiar with,” said Paul Howes, a Community Health Worker with Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre. “Visiting a museum concerned with local heritage adds to their knowledge and appreciation for their City.”
Following the success of the pilot project, the OMN and its community centre partners are working on thorough evaluation and developing creative strategies for the future. Strong communities are built through creativity and collaboration across sectors. The Ottawa Museum Network is committed to working with others to help tell the Greater Ottawa Story in innovative and meaningful ways.
For more information about the project or about the OMN, contact the network at firstname.lastname@example.org