What better way to spread the magic of the holiday sea-son than by sharing our love of animals with the community? This month, with the help of some of our reptile residents and Pippen the barn owl, Aquarium team members brought the fun to our friends at the MUSC Children’s Hospital, Pattison’s Academy, the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Windwood Farms. What a joy it was to spend time with such wonderful organizations and see everyone’s face light up with amazement when we walked in with the animals!
Our first stop was the MUSC Children’s Hospital atrium, which is a beautiful space filled with toys, games, a piano and many other activities for children to play with during their time at MUSC. Our team loved meeting all the children and their families that visited us in the atrium for a chance to get up close to our gopher tortoise, diamondback terrapin, black rat snake, juvenile alligator and barn owl.
Next we visited Pattison’s Academy, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with multiple disabilities by providing education and rehabilitation. The students and teachers had such enthusiasm for the animals, and the hands-on experience was a great way for the children to learn about the traits that make each animal unique.
The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI) empowers individuals with blindness or severe vision loss to live safe, dignified and self-sufficient lives. ABVI encourage its members to stay active by participating in fitness classes, social events and art lessons. This group of inspiring women were thrilled to learn about the animals and told us stories about their experiences.
Finally, we traveled to Awendaw to visit Windwood Farms, which is an organization that works to achieve positive permanency for children and families in our community through behavioral, educational and therapeutic interventions that enhance social functioning and well-being. The young men with whom we spent the afternoon were full of great questions and taught us something new—they showed us the bee colony they are raising!
Our Aquarium team initiated these community outreach efforts in order to give back to the community, but we left in awe of the incredible organizations that are dedicated to giving back and helping others all year long. We learned so much and have wonderful memories from our time with all of our new friends we met this holiday season.