DuPage Children’s Museum

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May 2016 View more

nm sue broad 1The DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville, is helping parents and visitors make a smart choice when it comes to nutrition and healthy eating habits. After nearly a decade of research and input from museum guests, the museum is now offering an onsite cafe aimed at educating families and children about healthy food choices.

“This is the number one requested amenity for the past ten years. We found that visitors were leaving the museum early, or coming late, because the kids were hungry and there was no place to eat in the museum,” said Sue Broad, DuPage Children’s Museum president and CEO. “The longer they are able to stay and extend their visit, the more they learn.”

S.M.A.R.T menu

The lower level vending area of the museum has been transformed into the S.M.A.R.T. Cafe, which stands for Science, Math, Art, Reading, and Technology. All the elements of the cafe are designed to be educational tools and a true learning experience to teach children about the science, math, art, reading, and technology of the food process. The cafe is the only one of its kind in the Chicago area offering a kids-orientated menu featuring healthy food choices, fresh fruits and veggies, smaller portion sizes, all at reasonable prices.

“We’ve taken what kids and families want. We have pictures of food on the menu so kids can see what they are ordering and to help them make healthy food choices. The cafe is unique in that it’s geared directly to children,” said Broad.

On a mission

The DuPage Children’s Museum’s mission it to stimulate curiosity, creativity, thinking, and problem solving in young children through self-directed, open-ended experiences. The cafe is an extension of the museum’s mission by offering more than just healthy menu items, it will also feature healthy family lifestyle programming emphasizing the importance of proper nutrition and exercise, and how the two contribute to a positive learning experience for children and adults.

The cafe features large electronic signs called S.M.A.R.T. signs, which change periodically with information about the basic concepts of food preparation. Smart bites signs are displayed throughout the cafe with nutritional information and facts about healthy lifestyles.
“This is a big boost for the museum. Besides the educational and nutritional benefits for our visitors, it will also provide some ongoing revenue support for the museum,” said Broad.

More than a museum

The DuPage Children’s Museum, the recipient of numerous national awards, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The private, not-for-profit organization moved to its current Naperville location from Wheaton in 2002, and now welcomes more than 300,000 visitors annually.

“I’ve been here for 20 years. It’s amazing to think that the museum has been around for 25 years. It’s been personally rewarding for me to be a part of it all and to see the museum become a key part of DuPage County, Naperville, and the downtown area,” said Broad. “We have been a major force for early childhood learning in the community. We have developed into a research center for early childhood development.”

According to Broad, the DuPage Children’s Museum partners with 60 social services agencies and works with more than 38 schools in providing portable learning labs.

“We are always looking for what’s next, the next challenge. We are big on taking intellectual risks,” said Broad.

Now serving

Designers and builders have been working on the layout and construction phase of the S.M.A.R.T cafe for months. Broad says she and her staff have been impressed by the enormous support from the community on this project. The S.M.A.R.T cafe is scheduled to open to the public in mid-December of 2012.

Photo courtesy of Robyn Sheldon

Photo Caption: Sue Broad, DuPage Children’s Museum president and CEO