BUFFALO, N.Y. — The new Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children's Museum on the waterfront has so much more than the latest and greatest exhibits for kids. It also has a special changing table - believed to be the only of its kind at a public place in Western New York that every family can use.
"Here's our universal changing station," said Lauren Savino, Explore & More’s access and inclusion specialist. "It can actually accommodate an individual up to 250 pounds that has self-care needs."
The universal changing table at Explore & More, for children and adults, means families can extend their stays and won't have to go out to their cars, or go home early, when someone needs to be changed.
"I think it really reduces anxiety for the family and makes them feel really included in our space, and that we've thought of their needs, and they're able to stay longer, and they're just happier because of that," Savino said.
Almost every exhibit at the museum is accessible for people with mobility and sensory limitations. The bikes have foot pedals, but they also have hand-cranks, so everyone can play with this exhibit. The museum has two sensory rooms. Moms who are breastfeeding can use them, and they're helpful for kids who just need a break.
"So, we've got the headphones, we've got a variety of fidget toys, because a lot of times, kids when they're coming in, they might be overwhelmed. They need things to fidget with and play with," says Savino.
Savino was a special education teacher for ten years and worked for Oishei Children's Hospital supporting families with kids with special needs before coming to Explore & More. For her, inclusion is personal.
"I also have a child with special needs myself, she does not have mobility issues, but she has a lot of sensory needs, which we've adapted in this museum for those families, as well," she said. "But to see families be able to come in and just feel safe, happy, welcomed and just encouraged to return, it just makes me very happy."
Explore & More is open Saturday and Sunday, and it'll be open seven days a week starting June 27.