A Carousel Ride...50 Years In The Making

As part of the Park Stewards program, students had an amazing first visit to National Mall and Memorial Parks where they rode and learned about the Smithsonian carousel.

Originally at a private, segregated park in Maryland, several years of protests resulted in opening the park to all visitors on August 23, 1963, the same day as the original March on Washington.

During the visit, the kids also met a woman who had been at the carousel the day it opened to everyone, over 50 years ago.

The teachers shared how helpful the park was in designing and tailoring the visit to benefit the children. “First, [the ranger] came to our school to present a slide show to the students about the park system. Second, [she] took the kids on "behind the scenes" tours of the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials to give them a better sense of what rangers do and what types of jobs are needed to support the park system. Third, [she] gave each of the kids an NPS passport to show them the breadth of the park system (and encourage them to visit as many as possible). The passports were a huge hit and did as much as anything to get the kids excited about the parks.”

After the visit, Ranger Jennifer shared that the students, “have had a number of club meetings after school, where they have discussed future visits and activities and developed a name for the group, PITCH – Parks are Ideal for Teaching Cool History. Students are also stirring interest among their classmates, as they promote the parks in their school community.” Students’ service-learning projects involved creating scavenger hunts for the park with four different themes around race, gender, or ethnicity.

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