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UNICEF Heart Strings exhibit will open in April at Pullman Yards

Decatur Kirkwood and East Lake Trending

UNICEF Heart Strings exhibit will open in April at Pullman Yards

Photo provided to Decaturish

By Grace Donnelly, contributor 

Atlanta, GA — A new installation at Pullman Yards this spring will highlight UNICEF’s work supporting children worldwide. 

Heart Strings is an interactive experience that opened in Atlanta on April 18. It aims to connect people to the realities children face around the world and UNICEF’s work to address childhood challenges. 

“In the midst of all these crises that we’re facing, and everything we’re seeing about what’s happening with children in Ukraine and Israel and Gaza, the note that we’re hoping to strike with Heart Strings is that things can be better,” UNICEF USA President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis said. 

The 45-minute experience includes interactive elements allowing visitors to use their voices, movements, and heartbeats to create and learn.  

Proceeds will go to UNICEF’s Every Child Fund, a fund of flexible resources for the organization that can be used to address the needs of children that may not attract massive global attention.

“There’s more children displaced from their homes right now around the world than at any time in our history. The reality is that only a few of those crises get attention, like Ukraine and Gaza. There’s lots of others that don’t get any attention,” Nyenhuis said. 

He noted that one million children were displaced due to conflict and the effects of climate change in the West African nation Burkina Faso, which is one example of a little-known crisis. 

“Nobody is talking about that, but UNICEF is there providing care and service to those children,” he said. “The way we’re able to do that is with flexible funds.” 

Links to Atlanta

Atlanta is the second stop on a tour of cities that will begin this month in Houston and travel to Boston and Chicago this spring. 

Nyenhuis said these cities are all places where UNICEF has robust support from donors, companies, and student clubs. He added that because Atlanta is a global city, it was a great early stop for Heart Strings. 

Decatur, which is near Kirkwood, achieved candidate city status in November through UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI). Decatur has been working with UNICEF on plans to support children and young people since March 2021

The Decatur City Commission adopted a CFCI local action plan in June of last year and officially launched its initiatives for centering youth voice and improving child well-being in December.

UNICEF’s mission is “for every child,” whether that’s in a distant country or in our own communities, Nyenhuis said. 

Exhibit details

The organization has been working with multimedia entertainment studio Moment Factory since the end of 2022 to develop and produce the experience. Moment Factory’s general manager of events, Jamie Reilly, said it was a challenge to balance all the elements in a way that was both educational and entertaining, but she believes visitors of all ages will take something from the interactive exhibit. 

“What we set out to do from the beginning was to make this an experience that would be filled with hope and optimism, rather than just the crisis and the hard reality,” Nyenhuis said. 

Visitors will walk through eight sections that blend narrative, education, and entertainment. The different zones of the Heart Strings experience focus on different aspects of a child’s life, from the importance of the first 1,000 days after a baby is born to the critical nature of education and youth advocacy. 

Nyenhuis argues that the long arc of childhood well-being is getting better when you look at statistics on things like childhood mortality, education, and vaccination rates. 

“The crises are real, but Heart Strings is meant to show the optimism and what can happen when we all work together to improve the wellbeing of children everywhere,” he said. 

The opening night is April 18, and more information on tickets for the opening event can be found here

General tickets go on sale for $23 on March 28 (children younger than three attend for free), and those interested in visiting can join the waitlist on March 21. Heart Strings will be open to the public until Sunday, May 5, at Building 10 in Pullman Yards in Kirkwood. The address is at The Machinery, 225 Rogers St. NE, Atlanta, GA. 

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