An Early Childhood Experience That Still Shapes How I Look At Things Today
Updated: Jul 19
As I cross the one month mark since being handed the baton and stepping into the Board President role at kidSTREAM Children's Museum, I wanted to share some reflections on my own early childhood experiences that still shape how I look at things today, and fuel my passion for what is coming together at kidSTREAM, for children across Ventura County.
During a recent visit to my parents' home, I came across a toy that my younger brother and I shared many memories playing with. For those who are not following GI Joe toys from the 90s, this yellow spring-loaded tank is part of a GI Joe action figure set. I remember the translucent yellow casing that allowed me to see some springs, an LED, some wires, and a battery inside. I remember rummaging for a screwdriver in the "junk drawer" that just about every home has, until I found one that was a perfect fit for the screws holding the two halves together.
There were no instructions, no assignment - just curiosity, and an open-ended opportunity to explore and learn.
Asking, "how does this work", has been the itch in my brain that has followed me throughout my entire life. It is the question that drives me to learn random new things. With every new hypothesis came another experiment, which led to a new learning, and often a new set of skills acquired along the way. Then another opportunity to reflect on what did or did not work, and successive iterations of testing and learning, often coming with increased speed as those learnings accumulated. This was not the last thing I took apart. As I reflect on those early childhood experiences, now through the lens of an adult looking for ways to give back, I have learned that:
Everyone has potential
Opportunities are not distributed equally
If we are in a position to make a difference, do it
Realizing that the experiences I had at a young age may not be available to children growing up in our community today, and then discovering what was coming together at kidSTREAM under the leadership of Kristie Akl and Michael Shanklin, led my wife and I to ask ourselves how our family could give of our time, money, and resources to make it a reality. What stood out to me from the very beginning was kidSTREAM's demonstrated commitment to advancing social equity and access to learning opportunities for children. Too often experiential learning is available only to families of means, who can take their children to museums, field trips, specialty camps and classes. Because early STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math) learning opportunities can change a child’s life trajectory, kidSTREAM is committed to access for all children, regardless of socioeconomic, physical, developmental and emotional ability. Our team recently spent a full day planning for the year ahead of us. We also spent time reflecting on everything that has brought us to this moment. I know I speak for our board and staff when I say how grateful we are for the dedication and vision of the founding board members and the support of the many volunteers and generous donors who laid the foundation that our current team is building upon. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with an amazing team to create an environment where children can be curious, explore, and learn.
When we finish construction on our planned 30,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor exhibit space, we will take the next big step in fulfilling our vision to inspire and empower kids to become critical thinkers, innovators, and life-long learners.
Join us in bringing the full vision of kidSTREAM to life, as we make our big push to raise the remain funds to allow us to fully open to the public. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of generations of children growing up in Ventura County.
As always, Full STREAM Ahead!
Board President, kidSTREAM Children's Museum