With the future of our world in the hands of today’s youth, it is no wonder that so much emphasis is put into children’s education. However, while traditional methods of education are vital to well-rounded childhood development, going beyond the classroom and absorbing life’s lessons with a hands-on approach is just as imperative to under- standing the ever-evolving world in which we live. For this reason, the importance of children’s museums and other outlets for discovery are not only obvious but are essential for the educational nourishment of our developing children.
Opening its doors in 1990 with this exact idea in mind, Las Vegas’ DISCOVERY Children’s Museum has since established itself as an irreplaceable entity of our neighborhood’s learning centers for children and families across the Valley.
Offering dozens of interactive learning stations and exhibits, the three-story, 58,000-square-foot facility, formerly known as the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, is a learning mecca that continues to expand and reinvent itself with the changing times.
“The museum is extremely important to the Southern Nevada community,” explained Tifferney White, CEO and president of DISCOVERY Children’s Museum. “It is probably one of the only educational resources that is applicable to any child and their family no matter their socio-economic status, cultural background (or) where they live in the city … no matter the child and the family, and what background they bring with them, they can come into the museum and have this rich experience.”
Focused around the central mission “to provide a vibrant and engaging environment, through exhibits and programs, where children from culturally and economically diverse backgrounds participate in playful learning activities that ignite a love of lifelong learning,” the museum, located in downtown’s Symphony Park, continually strives to provide the best and most relevant in early childhood education and community outreach.
Similarly, the Early Childhood Education program “promotes kindergarten readiness through engaging programming and science, technology, arts, engineering and math (S.T.E.A.M.) learning experiences,” White said. “Research demonstrates pre- kindergarten education for disadvantaged children can greatly increase their cognitive abilities, leading to long-term achievement and school success.”
In addition to the dominantly essential fundraising element, the Magic of DISCOVERY Gala is a celebration of the museum’s unique community of donors that has become a growing community since the museum’s opening and who make the museum’s mission possible. It is also the event where the year’s highly acclaimed Great Friend to Kids Award is presented.
Initiated in 1991 by the Association of Children’s Museums, the prestigious Great Friend to Kids Award honors a group, or an individual, that has unconditionally supported and contributed to the enrichment and strengthening of the lives of our community’s children. Receiving the museum’s 17th annual award this year is Wynn Las Vegas. In honor of Wynn Las Vegas’ ongoing contributions and support of the museum through monetary donations and exemplary volunteer efforts, Wynn Las Vegas was an unparalleled contender when it came time to select the titleholder.
“This award is one of the ways we try to show meaningful gratitude to those who believe in and invest in our children and families through the work of DISCOVERY Children’s Museum,” White said. “We selected Wynn exclusively this year because of the positive impact they have made on our organization over the past two years.
“They have allowed us to expand our audience by giving us the opportunity to implement an arts community outreach initiative to engage underserved families in hands-on interactive learning at festivals within their communities. Additionally, Wynn and its employees have been tremendous supporters of the museum’s mission by giving their time and talent through volunteering.”
What has come to be a staple of Wynn Las Vegas’ reputation, the organization’s community outreach — to DISCOVERY Children’s Museum and beyond our valley — is undeniable.
According to Wynn Las Vegas’ 2014 Social Responsibility Report, “In 2014, Wynn Las Vegas employees volunteered more than 4,000 hours of off-work time to local non-profits. There is a deeply rooted spirit of ‘giving’ that our employees willingly and unselfishly demonstrate all year long, whenever help is needed.”
Supporting nearly 100 nonprofit organizations, the efforts that Wynn Las Vegas puts into demonstrating, encouraging and exciting its employees about giving back to the community, it is palpable that the organization is an exemplary recipient of DISCOVERY Children’s
Museum’s Great Friend to Kids Award.
As further elaborated by the museum, “The hotel and its employees have been tremendous supporters of the museum’s mission by funding arts educational outreach programs serving children and families in Southern Nevada and by giving of their time and talent through volunteering.”
Adding to the expectations of the gala itself, “The museum is planning to raise the bar this year at its biggest fundraising event beginning with a cocktail reception and lively silent auction, followed by a gourmet dining experience and live auction. Entertainment will be front and center as Wynn Las Vegas’ Le Rêve – The Dream and Steve Wynn’s Show Stoppers perform. Guests are encouraged to dress in whimsical black-tie.”
The Magic of DISCOVERY Gala is open to the public, and tickets are available for purchase at the museum prior to the event. Guests are encouraged to join in the festivities of the evening, and become apart of the massive effort that continues to keep education alive and thriving in our backyard and beyond.
With various other programs offered through the museum, including the Admission Subsidy Program; Discovery on Wheels – House Calls; YouthWorks; and Early Childhood Education, a crucial focus of the museum is raising sufficient funds to bring their mission to fruition and continue to expand upon the extended programs.
In addition to supplemental donations that are gifted to the museum on an ongoing basis, taking place this month on the 15th is the museum’s 34th annual Magic of DISCOVERY Gala, the museum’s largest and most important fundraising event of the year. Hosting nearly 500 guests in the Latour Ballroom at Wynn Las Vegas — also the guest of honor at this year’s gala — the event is projected to raise approximately $530,000. Not only will the gala usher in some of Las Vegas’ most influential leaders, donors, friends, partners, sponsors and members, the funds raised will be allocated toward the betterment of the museum and its programs for the following year.
“As a nonprofit, mission-based organization, the event proceeds provide important contributed funds for the museum,” White explained. “Every year we work on building our capacity (programs, information, staff) in order to better respond to our community’s expanding needs.
“Specifically, these funds allow us to use the money where it’s needed to accomplish our goals and maintain the financial health of the museum.”
Expanding beyond the wonderment within the museum walls, the aforementioned programs set into action under the DISCOVERY Children’s Museum umbrella are unlike any other in the Valley. Designed for the future success of the children, the museum’s four mission-based and donation- funded programs focus on a wide range of children, from pre-kindergarten to 18-year-olds.
“YouthWorks, a job readiness program, is our museum’s longest-running community outreach program addressing the local high school dropout crisis,” White said. “While giving youth ages 14-18 opportunities to develop career goals and job skills, YouthWorks helps to ensure long-term future success in their life beyond high school.
“Since (its) inception in 1993, YouthWorks has directly impacted thousands of Clark County teenagers (and) boasts a 100 percent high school completion rate during the most recent 2015–2016 school year.”
On the same note, preparing children for a healthy, education-driven future long before they enter into high school, the Early Childhood Education and Discovery on Wheels programs are taught to a much younger age group in a developmentally appropriate environment and curriculum-relevant manner, in and out of the classroom.
With Discovery on Wheels traveling to Clark County elementary schools, students are taught interactive health, science, fitness, nutrition, mathematical measurements, obesity and cardiovascular health programs utilizing DISCOVERY’s signature hands-on approach brought directly into the classrooms.