Editorial: Our Children Deserve New Museum

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Read the full article below or on the VC Star website

If you’re a parent wishing Ventura County offered your kids more to do during the long summer break and throughout the year, you may be interested in the efforts of a dedicated group of folks in Camarillo.

The group is trying to open a children’s museum and last month reached a milestone. The Camarillo City Council on June 13 unanimously approved a deal giving the museum a potential home — the city’s old library at 3100 Ponderosa Drive.

We have long touted the cultural, educational and economic benefits of local museums, and we are especially excited about the prospect of one that caters to children. The county has been without a children’s museum since Gull Wings in Oxnard closed in January 2016, and we encourage parents, educators, civic leaders and anyone else interested in nurturing the young minds of our community to support this new effort.

Proponents of the planned kidSTREAM museum (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math) spent 18 months researching the project’s design, economic and fundraising feasibility and other issues before reaching the agreement with Camarillo, board chairwoman Kristie Akl told The Star last week. Some of that work can be viewed on the group’s website, kidstream.org, and it reveals one of the more impressive research efforts we’ve seen by a local nonprofit lately.

It also points out that children’s museums help young people develop essential skills, spur creativity and discovery, bring families together and serve as community gathering places. “Kids don’t get nearly enough opportunities for hands-on, unsupervised exploratory play,” developmental psychologist Richard Rende writes in his Inside Parenting blog for Psychology Today. “Children’s museums not only provide that, but they also serve as a lesson for what we need to bring back to childhood, and what we need to limit.”

Akl, a former teacher who launched the museum effort, says the group needs to raise $15 million and hopes to complete the project within three years. Camarillo agreed to lease part of the library to the group now for fundraising and other planning tasks, and to later sell it the property for $900,000.

We applaud Akl and her board, the Camarillo City Council, the Ventura County Community Foundation and others supporting this worthy effort, and we encourage you to do the same at kidstream.org.

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