It was in the spring that our worlds were turned upside down. The country went into a state of national crisis, with schools closing their doors and businesses urging employees to work remotely. Stay-at-home orders were instated to protect the public health.
These were uncharted waters, and parents, as the captains of your household, you were navigating this unprecedented crisis without a map or how-to guide on parenting during a pandemic. Perhaps you aren’t a parent yourself, but someone close to you is. You witnessed these struggles and saw the heavy toll it took on your loved ones. The many hats parents wear as caregivers, employees — and now teachers — were piled one on top of the other, as home, work and school became a single place. At times, it seemed impossible.
Here at the South Carolina Aquarium, our very own staff comprises hardworking, resilient and incredibly strong parents, and the people who love them, just like you. As we struggled through the daily rigmarole of working and running a household, answering emails with our children playing noisily in the background, hosting virtual meetings with babies on our hips, we asked ourselves what parents, grandparents and caregivers, in a time of never-before-seen hardship, really needed.
How could we help relieve the burden?
Our education team sprang into action, amplifying our efforts to produce distance learning opportunities for families near and far. We began educating from our own homes, with slapdash camera props and our smartphones. We filmed Family Nature Challenge videos with our kids, helping to provide outdoor activities to inspire learning beyond the boundaries of your home classroom. Bringing water, wildlife and wild places to families became our number one priority.
Now, we’re the ones in dire need of relief. The loss of critical ticket revenue due to COVID-19 has dealt a huge financial blow to our Aquarium, destabilizing our mission and our business. Without a significant infusion of financial support, we will lose the very heart of who we are: our education programming.
We’re facing the reality that our screens could go dark, causing lost connections for remote learners in the Lowcountry and beyond. Our virtual classrooms could go quiet, devoid of excited chatter as kids get an up-close look at an animal they may have never seen before. Some of our programs have already been reduced or suspended, with an unclear understanding of how and when they will return.
Can you imagine your world without them?
The stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has weighed heavily on all of us,
affecting our lives in ways we never could have imagined. We want you to know we hear you,
we see you. We are you. And we want to continue being there for you.
We launched this rescue campaign in September, in an effort to stabilize the education programs that serve more than 60,000 students each year, bringing wonder and excitement to homes and classrooms across the globe. With your support, we can succeed.
We have to. For parents, for students and educators, and for you — the families who need us most.