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New Orleans—Museum Highlights Young Voices of Resilience

New Orleans-St. Louis Cathedral

Stories shape our past and mold our present. New Orleanians have been retelling Hurricane Katrina disaster stories for a decade——odysseys of helicopter evacuations, ruined homes, and lost loved-ones.


But now we are changing the narrative. With the 10th anniversary of Katrina, New Orleans is hosting exhibits, panel discussions, book-signings, and volunteer projects that highlight the strength of the city. We have learned so much by rebuilding our community.


 New Orleans on the River

New Orleans is not without urban challenges, but it's stronger in 2015.


French Quarter New Orleans


We still love our traditional food, culture, and celebration.


 New Orleans SeafoodSidewalk SceneryLive Oak Tree

 But the city is pulsing with freshness and entrepreneurship!


Mardi Gras Celebrations


Back in August 2005, people said New Orleans was finished. And it looked and smelled that way for months, even years. But we did not reach "The End" of this story.


And why not?


 Because of our Resilience — which is the message of a new storytelling project and exhibit, "Katrina Voices," on display now and through August 2015 at the Louisiana Children's Museum. Tulane psychologist Dr. Valerie Wajda-Johnston has interviewed local children on video. And with their voices, the museum has included the wisdom of youth to our discussions of regeneration.


 Katrina Youth Voice-Anika

"We wanted to hear the voices of our youngest citizens," says Julia Bland, CEO of the museum. "The threads of community, family, and hope that are woven throughout their stories are valuable insights for those of us who work with children and families." The  W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which supported the project, is also using some of the video footage for a conference on young men of color.



 Jarvis-age 10 in 2005Katrina Youth Voice- Jarvis

 Jarvis, age 10 in 2005


I was struck by the sagacity of these young storytellers when I visited the exhibit and watched the video.


"It's okay to start over," says Brailyn. "Maybe it will be better for you."


Brailyn-6 years old in 2005


 "Your plans for your life and life's plans for your life don't always match up...and sometimes that's a good thing," says Maci, who learned this lesson when she was only eleven years old in 2005.


Maci 11 yrs old in 2005


The video, which can be seen here on You Tube, is only one part of the museum's exhibit. Children can also re-imagine the structure of the city and explore its geography through interactive games and displays.


Children are Resilience

Reimagining a City

Map of New Orleans


Families can hang hopes for our children on the museum's Promise Tree, which offers an extra upbeat note to the exhibit.


Hanging Hopes for Our ChildrenPromise Tree


Invest in Education


The Louisiana Children's Museum is one of the city's gems. It is a partner in community engagement and a leader in strengthening early childhood development.


 How Does a City Grow?

 It is also a place for fun.


River Voices

Food Culture Lives On


New Orleans wants to prove its resilience and transformation. The Children's Museum is helping the city do that. In 2018, the museum will open its new facility in City Park, which will include an early learning village, a nature center, an edible garden, a cafÉ, and much more.


And that is a sweet ending to a hurricane tale.


Sweet Streets


The Louisiana Children's Museum is located at 420 Julia Street in New Orleans' Warehouse District. Entrance is $8.50 per person, adults and children. Check its hours of operation here.


For a list of Katrina 10th Anniversary events and volunteer opportunities, click here.




Images (23)
  • French Quarter New Orleans: New Orleans Culture
  • New Orleans-Jackson Square: New Orleans-Jackson Square
  • New Orleans on the River: New Orleans on the River
  • New Orleans Seafood: New Orleans Seafood
  • Sidewalk Scenery: Sidewalk Scenery
  • Mardi Gras Celebrations: Mardi Gras Celebrations
  • Live Oak Tree: Live Oak Tree
  • Katrina Youth Voice- Jarvis: Katrina Youth Voice- Jarvis
  • Brailyn-6 years old in 2005: Brailyn-6 years old in 2005
  • Maci 11 yrs old in 2005: Maci 11 yrs old in 2005
  • Reimagining a City: Reimagining a City
  • Children are Resiliency: Children are Resiliency
  • Promise Tree: Promise Tree
  • Hanging Hopes for Our Children: Hanging Hopes for Our Children
  • Dr. Valerie Wajda-Johnston, Ph.D.: Dr. Valerie Wajda-Johnston, Ph.D.
  • Map of New Orleans: Map of New Orleans
  • River Voices: River Voices
  • Sweet Ending: Sweet Ending
  • How Does a City Grow?: How Does a City Grow?
  • Invest in Education: Invest in Education
  • Food Culture Lives On: Food Culture Lives On
  • Katrina Youth Voice-Anika: Katrina Youth Voice-Anika
  • Jarvis-age 10 in 2005: Jarvis-age 10 in 2005

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Comments (5)

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It's a nice chapter in the grim story of New Orleans post Katrina.  Thanks for sharing this with us; I hope the Children's Museum ends this exhibit with a flourish.


The city and those who stayed are resilient.  Kudos to them and to the many other Americans who gave of their time and resources to help the city recover and rebuild.


There's no place anywhere like New Orleans and I need to get back there sometime soon.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

Thanks for, in a way, welcoming me back. My last visit was a grim one, working as a volunteer preparing flooded houses for rebuilding (or demolition) a year after Katrina. In many ways, I've put off coming back, in part in anger at how little was done and how long it took, and in part a fear of finding something like New-Orleansland. 


While I know nothing can ever be the same...and many things shouldn't be...I see, both through the report and through the children, reason to return!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Great piece! Yes, it is good to hear from our children about what they learned in the past decade living in New Orleans after the storm. So many were impacted, many were harmed and suffered PTSD.  Great to hear kids speak about the positive outcomes from their Katrina experiences.  I can't wait for the new LA Childrens Museum to open in its new and amazing facility in City Park, another NOLA gem. Ya'll come visit soon and often to experience a city like no other, New Orleans. It has not been the Big Easy for those of us who remained and rebuilt, but it is an amazing and pleasure-filled city for all who visit now. NO Museum of Art, Lafitte Natl Historical Park with its nature walk, Julia Street art district with CAC and Ogden Museum of Southern Art, D-Day Museum, guided tours in French Quarter and the Garden District, bicycling and walking tours throughout the city's architecturally rich and garden-filled neighborhoods. And I haven't even mentioned the food and music.  I don't work for the tourist commission, I just love for people to discover what an important and culturally authentic American city New Orleans is. And have some fun!

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