The Opal School of the Portland Children’s Museum used their Innovation Fund to launch a network of educators interested in supporting young children’s voices in broader civic dialogue. To accomplish this goal, they hosted a catalytic event attended by 130 teachers, administrators, advocates, and policy makers, including the state coordinator of early childhood education. At this launch event, Mara Krechevsky and Ben Mardell of Project Zero, an educational research group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, discussed projects in Boston and Washington, D.C. that advance the rights of children as fully participatory community members.
After this event, Opal School and their collaborating partners at the Helen Gordon Child Development Center, a full-day lab school of the Graduate School of Education of Portland State University (an AshokaU campus) met to reflect on the experience and plan next steps. They created a vision for their project, which will involve developing an app-based demonstration of children’s relationship with places. The project is entitled the “Hear Our Children/Here Are Children” Project. This demonstration will extend the public imagination by helping adults to view children as full community participants. They also determined pilot members, forming a pilot group that involved not only Opal School and the Helen Gordon Child Development Center, but also Mentor Graphics Child Development Center, Teaching Preschool Partners, and Project Zero.
Opal School and their collaborating partners are excited that they have established such a strong commitment among pilot group members to work together to implement the Hear Our Children/Here Are Children Project. Generating interest in sharing children’s ideas with the greater public among the larger group of 130 educators and advocates who attended the initial catalytic event was also an exciting and important aspect of the project. The Portland-based pilot group is in a great position to share work on their project with a network of individuals and organizations doing similar work in other cities.