Amazement HonorFrom the Institute of Museum and Library Services: First Lady Michelle Obama joined the Institute at the White House to present the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service to Amazement Square. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. Mort Sajadian, PhD, Amazement Square President/CEO, and community member Pastor Shirley Hunter accepted the National Medal.  In 2009, Shirley Hunter, assistant pastor at Dominion Now Word Ministries, started a social services-sponsored daycare called Dominion Kidz Child Development Center in Lynchburg, Virginia. Through a partnership with Amazement Square, the daycare presents low-income, at-risk children with literacy-based early learning programs including American Sign Language, Spanish language, reading, and arts-based curricula.

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Pastor Shirley credits Amazement Square with helping the center equip the city’s neediest children with the social and academic skills they need for a great start in kindergarten. She hopes to earn a Child Development Associate Credential and provide similar early learning day care services in other communities throughout Lynchburg. She says, “Amazement Square helps us make a positive impact in children’s lives by providing an outlet that makes learning fun and gives children a different mindset about life.”

Amazement Square, in Lynchburg, Virginia, is a hands-on museum with a focus on creating unique learning experiences with lasting impacts on the lives of children and their families, sparking their imaginations, creativity and curiosity. Since opening in 2001, the museum has become a regional resource for education and cultural enrichment. They offer interactive and engaging exhibitions, school programs that bring the state standards of learning to life, imaginative interpretive programs and workshops, hands-on outreach activities, cultural festivals and annual events. Their investment in downtown revitalization supports the surrounding community.

These ten honorees exemplify the nation’s great libraries and museums and demonstrate the significant impact and high quality of programs, services, and partnerships, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. They were selected from thirty finalists that were among institutions from across the country that were nominated for the honor.