We believe a community’s strength is determined by the priority placed on their children. As we serve children and families in Stephenson county and all of northwest Illinois, one of our goals is to play a role in strengthening our communities by inspiring children to become innovative and creative thinkers. By providing a space where they can learn through hands-on exhibits, classes, and programs, the Children’s Hands-On Museum of Northwest Illinois (CHOM) seeks to close educational and opportunity gaps, essentially working to transform the culture from the earliest age. By making a difference in the lives of children and providing the imaginative learning environment, there is a positive impact on the community where they live.

Hands-On museums are designed in such a way to be a vehicle for exploration that leads to both fun and learning. Professor Karen Hutchison of Rowan University stated, “Play is actually the work of a child in which they are preparing themselves for adult roles and for society at large.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, unstructured child-driven play and exploration is crucial to healthy development. Play helps them to develop problem-solving skills, handle emotions, and collaborate with other kids at play.

There’s no end to what a child can learn at CHOM. Our exhibits cover a range of topics from medicine, farming and scientific exploration to the creative and performing arts. You can probably remember back to your childhood when you played pretend, whether you cared for your baby dolls pretending to be a doctor or practiced your dance moves on the back patio planning your future career as a stage performer. Through self-directed play, children can explore their interests and even follow their dreams. In today’s world of smart phones and tablets, children need every opportunity to explore their world.

It truly takes a village to prioritize our greatest asset–our children. Through the generous donations of time, talent and treasure, many individuals, businesses and organizations have helped the Children’s Hands-On Museum of Northwest Illinois become a reality. When kids come to the museum, they are going much farther–to the farm, the restaurant, the hospital and the theater. Your support allows CHOM to continue filling this important need for these young learners. Ask how you can join us in our mission and make a difference in the lives of children and the communities where they live!