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Peoria Riverfront Museum 'Christmas in the Village' event gives students free trips to the museum

The Peoria Riverfront Museum will host a “Christmas in the Village” event on Saturday, Dec. 3 to benefit its initiative that provides free museum visits to students in central Illinois.

The Every Student Initiative sponsors schools to make yearly visits to the museum for kindergarten through eighth grade students, and provides educators with access to the museum campus. The families of visiting students also get a pass to return to the museum for free.

Everley Davis, the museum's educator and student engagement coordinator, said this year's “Christmas in the Village” event will help expand the program to benefit more students.

“Imagine the repetition that they're getting and becoming comfortable within the museum space,” Davis said. “All the educators at that sponsored school get a free membership to the museum for a year so that they can truly ingratiate themselves within our location. So we become a resource for the classroom and build that bridge between formal and informal learning.”

Davis also said the initiative sponsors 42 schools spanning six school districts throughout central Illinois and she hopes the “Christmas in the Village” event will help them reach more students.

Museum board member and “Christmas in the Village” event chairperson Alison Unkovich said the Every Student Initiative has done extensive work so far in reaching students and their families.

“Since its inception in 2017, the Every Student Initiative has given close to 60,000 experiences to the museum at no cost to the student,” Unkovich said, “You know, only half of those kids brought their families back. Think about the exposure for our community and for their families that this program has really offered and I think it's pretty amazing.”

The “Christmas in the Village” event will feature a variety of family-friendly activities, including carriage rides, food vendors and trucks, face painting and more. Tickets are priced at $15 for individual members of the museum, and $20 for individual non-members. There also is a family ticket option for two adults and their children, priced at $40 for members and $50 for non-members.

More information about the event as well as the Every Student Initiative can be found at peoriariverfrontmuseum.org.

Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.