Rack ‘em up!
In “Having fun saving the world” (Nov. 7, 2013) I raised questions about the proposed Kidzeum’s hopes of turning “addressing the following critical issues affecting the health and wellness of youth today and of future generations” such as obesity and its diseases and air pollution into family fun. I have a few more.
Downtown Springfield had a 10,000-square-foot children’s museum from 1996 to 2001, which closed from a lack of money and interest. Which raises a question: The proposed new on will succeed because…why? The SJ-R thinks it was because its predecessor failed because it opened before downtown became a popular tourist, dining and shopping destination. I wonder whether that isn’t backwards – that one of the reasons that downtown didn’t become a popular tourist, dining and shopping destination in the ‘90s was because the children’s museum didn’t attract many visitors there.
Who, exactly, is being made educated and aware about the need for a healthy body on a healthy planet? It isn’t kids, after all, who need to know the risks of poor diet, but the parents who buy and prepare their food. It isn’t kids who decide which kind of motor vehicle to drive or how far to live from work and school or whether to burn wood in a fireplace, all of which determine how much they pollute the air. The only way to “address” critical issues such as these is politics, whose powers can be exercised only by adults, not children – more’s the pity.
The kids are just unwitting shills, of course, a way to get the suckers into the show. So what’s the hustle? The “healthy body heart” sponsor is Prairie Cardiovascular, which we wrote about a while back. (“Just what the doctor ordered,” Aug. 23, 2012.) The “Bone Zone” sponsor is the Orthopedic Center of Illinois Foundation. The “Immunization of Growth Chart” sponsor is the pediatricians of the Springfield Clinic. The “Recycling Transportation” sponsor is Allied Waste Services.
Of course, I might be wrong. The Kidzeum approach to educating opinion might be more subtle, and more disheartening, than it seems. Maybe the wizardry of these museum exhibits will persuade kids to want what mom wants them to want, to do what their parents have not been able to, such as cut back on the sugary drinks. The kids would be healthier and they will still like mom!!! No wonder such places are popular with parents.
None of these ads – infomercials, really – are aimed at the kiddies but their parents. The big local health care organizations are eager to persuade local citizens to not drive down to St. Louis to Barnes Jewish Hospital when they feel poorly. I am mystified, though, by the involvement of the Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management, the “Dam Safety and Levee” sponsor, unless it is to establish that there is an Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management.
Surely promoting good health and a clean environment is a Good Thing no matter who promotes them? Maybe not; the record of physicians’ groups in promoting public health – as distinct from protecting physicians’ incomes – is not edifying. And there are plenty of environmentalists who will argue that an Illinois with fewer dams and levees in it would be a better Illinois.
More troubling is the way that the program is determined by the availability of an organization willing to pay for them. Were Springfield’s biggest employers not health care providers but makers of pool tables, would the kiddies be instructed in the social benefits of billiards?
Rack ‘em up!