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By Jimi Jo Story
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 11, 1998

Kid stuff


Ian Mayer
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Tucson Children's Museum volunteer and UA sophomore Erin Riley sits on the tongue of the new exhibit which demonstrates the effects of smoking. Riley began volunteering at the museum to help combat homesickness.

Making edible jewelry and paper-sack vests are fun ways for Erin Riley to express her childish side.

The creative writing and media arts sophomore shares her creative talents with the youngsters at the Tucson Children's Museum as a way to "sustain emotional well-being."

"I have always loved the pure energy and wonder-spirit of children," Riley said. "It gives me faith that happiness isn't just something that you hear about."

Riley, who helps with arts and sciences workshops at the museum, 200 S. Sixth Ave., said she enjoys working with the children between ages 2 and 11.

"Volunteering with children gives anyone a new perspective," Riley said. "Sometimes older people are incredibly perfunctory and every day has trends and patterns.

"Children don't have that - they wake up in the morning and jump around, climb trees, jump in ponds - they have absolutely no regard for other people's expectations," she added.

Riley said she began volunteering at Tucson Children's Museum to help cope with the melancholy of being away from home for the first time.

Mary Lynn Greenhow, volunteer coordinator for the museum, said it has a unique approach to learning.

"A lot of museums are just look, don't touch, but this is hands-on," she said.

Greenhow said the museum's programming goal is "to excite children about learning and get them to set goals about their futures."

She said she usually expects volunteers to commit their time for at least six months, but that she is flexible.

"This is an easy-going atmosphere," Riley said. "That's really important because if it was a responsibility it might lose its sparkle."

Greenhow said volunteering at the museum is good for students because she has high expectations of the volunteers.

"It's an opportunity to be taught responsibility, and learn about confidence and self-esteem," Greenhow said. "You're being a positive role model for children.

"Volunteers are very much a part of our family here," Greenhow added. "There's nothing to be afraid of. You won't get stuck in the basement sorting files for three hours a day."

Students interested in volunteering for the Tucson Children's Museum can call Mary Lynn Greenhow at 792-9985.

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