KC Healthy Kids honors Kemper Museum with 2019 Champions for Health Award

KC Healthy Kids honors Kemper Museum with 2019 Champions for Health Award

In the Media

KC Healthy Kids has named Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art the 2019 recipient of their Champions for Health Award.

The award was established to recognize an individual or organization that has worked closely with KC Healthy Kids to make Kansas City a healthier place to live, work, learn, and play.

Over the past year, these two organizations that formed around different missions have united around the shared goal of serving youth and building healthy environments—Kemper Museum through the enrichment provided by experiencing contemporary art, and KC Healthy Kids through advocacy and education for healthy communities.

“As much as people need affordable fresh food and safe places to walk, bike, and play, they also need safe spaces like Kemper Museum to experience art and explore new ideas,” said Breeze Richardson, director of marketing and communications for the museum.

The museum experience is rooted in this idea, and demonstrated by the exhibitions on view and event programming for all ages. Kemper Museum’s current exhibition, Polly Apfelbaum: Waiting for the UFOs (a space set between a landscape and a bunch of flowers), centers on the artist’s idea that we need to have spaces where we can go and be with ourselves and be inspired.

For both Kemper Museum and KC Healthy Kids, community is key. At Kemper Museum, admission is always free, and school field trips are eligible for full transportation reimbursement, made possible because of a robust membership program and wide community support received by the institution since its opening in 1994.

“I believe that the arts play a key role in this fast-paced, constantly changing landscape we now find ourselves in, and institutions like Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art are at the epicenter of this energy,” said Sean O’Harrow, the new executive director at Kemper Museum. “People want an institution that brings people together, celebrates diversity, and at the same time reminds us of our common humanity. And Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is in a perfect position to do this for the people of Kansas City and beyond.”

Whether they are engaging with art or becoming advocates for healthy communities, youth need to be able to think critically about their world.

Each year, Kemper Museum hosts thousands of students for school tours, where youth deepen critical thinking skills, engage in individual reflection, and use art to explore the world around them, often beginning with the question, “What’s going on in this picture?” The open-ended questions that follow help them look deeper into a work of art and understand that there’s not always one right answer to a question, or one way to solve a problem. The same is true when students in KC Healthy Kids’ programs look around their communities and learn to see how food access and safe places affect their health.

Throughout the past year, the two organizations have connected through a number of key programs and events.

In early 2018, Café Sebastienne at Kemper Museum signed on as a partner in KC Healthy Kids’ Carrot Gold program. The museum’s café is recognized for excellence in local purchasing, sustainable operating policies, and healthy choices and joins more than forty area restaurants in the program.  

At the Champions for Health Youth Summit last year, museum education staff created take-home art kits for a prize drawing, modeled off the take-home art kits they give to every youth who successfully completes the museum’s monthly Scavenger Saturday hunt. In August, KC Healthy Kids co-sponsored sidewalk chalk games by artist Chico Sierra at the museum’s Fourth Annual Block Party, demonstrating how healthy play can happen anywhere you can draw the game details out on the ground.

In their Arts + Social Impact Explorer, Americans for the Arts says, “The arts increase a person’s desire to participate in improving their community. Following engagement in the arts, 63 percent of participants indicated that they had become more aware of—and more interested in remedying—local challenges.”

“We’re grateful to Kemper Museum for partnering with us in this way,” says Heather Winslow Gibbons, creative director at KC Healthy Kids. “We’ve been able to reach a new audience of people who care about social issues like food access and are willing to speak out about them.”

Representatives from Kemper Museum will accept the award at KC Healthy Kids’ Champions for Health Youth Summit on March 7, where 200 kids from urban, suburban, and rural communities will come together to hone their advocacy skills. Elected officials from their own communities will join them for lunch to hear about their projects for making healthy changes in their schools and neighborhoods.

Kemper Museum regularly hosts special exhibitions, installations, lectures, and workshops, as well as youth, teen, and family programs.

Preschool through university educators may schedule free school tours to engage students in discussions about how the art relates to their education and lives. With advance input from classroom and art teachers, tour content can be tailored to the groups’ needs. Thematic content, interdisciplinary curriculum connections, vocabulary words, etc., can be integrated into guided tours.