The concept for the “Ready. Set. School.” campaign was soft-tested last winter, when the Please Touch Museum invited people in for health-based programming and free COVID vaccinations.
Even though the events were not given much promotion and occurred on two dark, cold Wednesday evenings in January and February, to Wellenbach’s surprise they were well attended. Ultimately about 400 people received a vaccination.
“The team came together and said, ‘Wow, there might be a there there,’” she said.
The health awareness campaign comes just as the Please Touch Museum is opening a temporary exhibition based on the Disney Junior animated show, “Doc McStuffins, wherein a young girl who aspires to be a doctor acts as a caregiver to a cadre of toys that come to life. The show is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
The play activities in the traveling exhibition are designed to demystify the act of going to a doctor’s office, which Wellenbach says can be helpful for both children and parents.
“We sometimes assume that grown-ups understand everything that they need to do to advocate for their child’s health and well-being,” she said. “We will have trusted community resources and partners providing resources there to answer questions and give information, because information and education is empowering to children and adults alike.”
The free Community Days are spaced three weeks apart, from June through August. The interval is designed to accommodate vaccination schedules, in which multiple shots need to be given over a certain period of time.
It is possible that by the time the first Community Day arrives, the FDA may have approved the first vaccination for children under five years old.
If that approval occurs, Wellenbach hopes children may be more amenable to a shot if it comes with a chance to play, than in a doctor’s office.
“When you come to the children’s museum, you get your shot and then you get to go on a carousel ride for free,” she said.