NEW YORK—Dozens of kindergarten kids from PS 19 climbed, played, and explored at the new Junior Officers Discovery Zone that opened this Thursday at the New York City Police Museum in Lower Manhattan.
Designed for children ages 3–10, the permanent interactive exhibit aims to teach children about the specialized skills it takes to be a police officer through play.
“With Chinatown, Lower East Side, Battery Park City, and the Financial District all nearby, our goal is for the Junior Officers Discovery Zone to be a place for families to learn and explore together and to create an inter-generational dialogue between families, grandparents, and parents and their children,” said the Museum Executive Director Julie Bose.
“We are honored to tell the story of the NYPD and the heroism of the men and women who serve in the department,” said Bose.
The area features a variety of play stations including an emergency service truck, a police car, a physical challenge station, a 1st Precinct building climbing structure, and a touch screen memory test for junior detectives.
First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro said the discovery zone will provide an opportunity for kids to not only view the equipment used by emergency service police officers, but also learn about police codes, training, and fingerprints.
“But most importantly, children will learn about the important role police serve in their communities,” said Pineiro. “We didn’t have anything like this when I was growing up.”
In building the zone, the staff at the Police Museum contacted the early childhood experts at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan to help in the design of the project.
“Most of all we want the community to feel it’s their museum and is a place they will revisit frequently,” said Bose.
The children were very enthusiastic and had a great time exploring and playing. Some of the children had an opportunity to put on miniature police uniforms as they ran around.
“It’s amazing to be here,” said kindergarten teacher Ms. Loeimto. “Very authentic.”
Elisabeth Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance, said that the agency’s research shows the population in Lower Manhattan is booming, especially for families, as evidenced by the demand in schools and the increase of residential buildings in the area. Tourism is also on the rise and Berger said the museum’s program will help to provide a variety of opportunities for both residents and visitors.
“I brought my own two kids here and they just loved it,” said Bose, who was thrilled to finally see the exhibit open three years after its inception.
Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin said that the museum is her three boys’ favorite place to play. Menin said they always talk about becoming police officers and the museum allows them to understand what that work is like.
The discovery zone received a $150,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant also helped to attract other sponsors to fund the project.