Centre for youth health literacy
In association with the Ministry of Health, Pauls Stradiņš Medicine History Museum has started work on launching the Children’s Museum as a contemporary centre for health literacy among school-age youth. Housed in the reconstructed extension of the existing museum building, the upcoming museum will open its doors late in 2024. Entitled ‘One Health’, the permanent exhibition of the Children’s Museum will examine health as an element uniting humans and ecosystems.
At the event hosted by the Medicine History Museum on 21 September 2022, the museum’s director Kaspars Vanags, Health Minister Daniels Pavļuts and architect Brigita Bula revealed the concept and construction plans of the Children’s Museum. Students of the DOMDARIS school presented a pop-up exhibition dedicated to health matters of particular interest to them.
"The knowledge and skills that our children will have of caring for health, both their own and that of people around them, is a matter of survival for Latvia. We have one of the worst public health records in Europe, and people lose their lives and health due to non-infectious diseases with causes rooted in poor health literacy. We have developed a number of health literacy campaigns for schoolchildren in the recent years, and it has become obvious that we are not going to solve the problem without systematic involvement from schools. At the same time, the Ministry of Health cannot afford to wait, and we continue to make use of the tools that are available to us. For this reason we are now joining forces with the museum to create an educational centre where, thanks to art and creativity, children will be able to gain insight into subjects that parents and teachers may sometimes find problematic to broach," says D. Pavļuts.
The Children’s Museum is scheduled to open to the public in late 2024; it will be housed in the reconstructed extension of the main building of the Medicine History Museum at 1 Ukrainas neatkarības Street in Riga. The planned permanent exhibition of the Children’s Museum, ‘One Health, will speak about health as an element that unites humans and ecosystems into a single whole, highlighting empathy as a significant factor alongside science and future technologies. Responding to the social challenges of today, the Children’s Museum will be developed as a centre for health literacy among school-age youth, thus contributing to social sustainability. Speaking at the event, Director of the Medicine History Museum K. Vanags emphasised:
"With the generation who will inhabit a world transformed by climate change in mind, the museum is seeking to create a space where children, their parents and schoolteachers can have a conversation about care as the foundation of a sustainable society, foster health literacy and internalize the principles of inclusivity."
For the purposes of the project, the museum in association with the Ministry of Health has signed a contract for the reconstruction of the extension for the amount of EUR 650 317. The construction of the Children’s Museum is also supported by the MHM Support Foundation Society, attracting a donation from Swedbank AS to cover the expenses for the development of the construction plan. The team of architect Brigita Bula is expected to complete the construction plan by the end of 2022, while the actual building work is scheduled for 2023. Concurrently, work continues on developing the content of the permanent exhibition of the Children’s Museum and attracting the required funding for it.
There is no global shortage of children’s museums created by grownups; for this reason, the Medicine History Museum has invited students of the DOMDARIS school to contribute to the content development process. The school’s involvement in the development does more than just ensure that the needs and interests of the target audience of the Children’s Museum are well represented: it also provides an opportunity for the students to put to practice the values embraced by their school ‒ responsibility, growth and a strong community.
In photo: Edited photography. "Mountain sun" cabinet at the Latvian Red Cross Hospital. Photographer: Kārlis Iltners. Riga, 1923-1925. PSMHM