What started with a trip to Italy has transformed into an annual symposium at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma.
The third annual Symposium on Our Youngest Children will be Tuesday at the Pantages Theater.
Focused on the theme, “What we know, what we do,” the symposium will bring community members together to discuss how Tacoma can best support children as creative and capable individuals.
“Children are contributing right now, so how do we honor that?” museum deputy director Brenda Morrison said.
The symposium was dreamed up after a 2013 trip to Italy with the Association of Children’s Museums. Museum staff members and community members from cities with children’s museums attended.
“We took this trip very seriously,” Morrison said.
She and 13 other Tacoma teachers, businesspeople, contractors, community advocates and early education specialists traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy, which has an unusual early education approach.
“It was born out of post-World War II social justice movements,” Morrison said. “The people in Reggio Emilia said, ‘If we were taught to be critically thinking and contributing citizens early on, things might have been different for us.’ ”
The lessons from Italy inspired Morrison and the others. After taking a year to plan and brainstorm, the group created a symposium focused on children’s issues and support.
Tuesday’s event will feature keynote speaker Andy Lloyd, a representative from the English city of Leeds, which has started a campaign called “Child Friendly Leeds.”
Other participants will include Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Ali Modarres, director of Urban Studies at the University of Washington Tacoma.
Discussions will focus on what is known about children, such as their brain development, and how Tacoma institutions can best support its young citizens.
“We want to talk about our highest aspirations for children and children being honored in our community,” Morrison said. “It’s not a conversation that happens every day.” said.
While the discussions will focus on young people, adults are invited to attend.
“It’s for anybody who has children in their lives,” Morrison said. “We hope you come and participate, and you leave feeling energy and motivated toward positive change in our community.
“It’s about lifting children and lifting families up.”
If you go
When: 8 a.m.- noon Tuesday
Where: Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway Ave., Tacoma
Cost: Pay as you will, donations encouraged
To register: Online at bit.ly/2mZwTfRor by calling 253-627-6031