A Day with AMNH and FIRM
On any given day, thousands of people—children, adults, tourists, and native New Yorkers alike—all pass through the halls of the American Museum of Natural History. It is a truly impressive space: from the Hayden Planetarium to the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, each hall in the museum is more wondrous than the next. If you are in New York, it is simply a must-see. Yet, for millions of New Yorkers, the museum, and other cultural institutions like it, may seem just out of reach. This past weekend, we had the opportunity to bridge that gap by partnering with the Museum to open their doors to hundreds of New York’s most vulnerable: unaccompanied refugee children from Central America.
Friends of Immigrant Refugee Minors (FIRM) is an initiative started in 2015 by the Hispanic Federation that brings together unaccompanied minors throughout New York. For many of these children who made a solitary journey to the United States in the hopes of escaping the violence and brutality tearing their native countries in Central America apart, it has proven difficult to relate to peers. FIRM provides an outlet for these social connections that are crucial to development and adjustment.
On Saturday, March 12th, buses full of eager children arrived on 81st and Central Park West ready for a day of fun and learning. These children had never been to the museum before, and weren’t quite sure what to expect. As each tour group got underway, appropriately named after animals in the museum, the faces of awe and excitement were visible. The day was filled with tours of different halls, interactive exhibits, and opportunities to speak with Latino scientists about their own personal journeys to the field of science.
“It’s inspiring to consider what these children have been through, and see how resilient they are,” said Jose Calderon. “The FIRM initiative is dedicated to showing these kids that they have a place in their new home in America, and we are welcoming them with open arms.”