Whenever Play Explorer Kim Garvey interacts with the visitors on the Stepping Stones Museum for Children floor, she simply does what comes naturally to her.
“I have younger nieces and 10 first cousins and we all grew up fairly close,” she said. “I’ve always been around many children. I’ve always looked to be their mentor and serve as a good role model. I wanted them to look up to me so that I could lead them down the right path.”
Each day, Kim brings that desire to mentor to the museum. Many times, she can be found engaging shy children and leading them in play.
“If I notice a child sort of hanging back, I will walk up to that child and try to engage him or her,” she said. “For instance, if I’m in the Multimedia Gallery and I see kids sitting on the bleachers, I will get the kids up and dancing. I will play with them, get them comfortable with me and then bring them over to play at the light table. It’s rewarding to see the children come out of their shell.”
Interactions like these go a long way in revealing why the Multimedia Gallery is Kim’s favorite museum space. She also makes sure that she has regular interactions with another important group of visitors.
“I really like building relationships with the caregivers as well as the children,” Kim said. “In fact, I’ve become really good friends with one of our caregivers who I see here a couple of times a week. I think that it is really important to build these relationships because it helps the parents and caregivers know that we really care about their child.”
It’s fairly obvious to anyone watching Kim that she really does care.
“I just love kids,” she said. “I love to play with kids and work with kids. But it goes beyond that. I also love seeing children learn something new. They are little sponges, so it’s great that kids learn here through play. They don’t even realize that they are, but they’re learning. In a small way, I am helping to teach them different skills. I love that. Plus, we get to enjoy their laughter. I love to see the kids laughing. I love their innocence.”
Kim also has some great advice for museum visitors.
“Come with an open mind for play,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to try something new. And don’t be shy about involving the Play Explorers. That’s why we’re here.”