Milwaukee County is facing some staggering health and wellness issues. In fact, the health of Milwaukee County residents is nearly the lowest in the entire state, and there are extraordinary racial health disparities between white residents and people of color. Due to this, Milwaukee County has adopted equity and wellness as two of its key priorities.
The Mitchell Park Domes represents a powerful tool for helping Milwaukee County overcome these equity and wellness challenges. According to public health researchers (Stamatakis, Mitchell), connecting to nature is not just a fun pastime, it is critical to the emotional and physical well-being of the community. In fact, being in nature reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. It also contributes to physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. This is especially critical for urban youth who are often deprived of green space.
The Friends of the Domes Education Department manages a wide range of programs geared toward helping the community connect with nature. Through its two core pillars of wellness and equity, the Friends Education Department provides: adult workshops; family and youth programs; youth field trips; an onsite Education Center open to the public; and an annual Symposium that focuses on topics critical to the community’s health.
A few ways that Friends of the Domes supports Milwaukee County’s equity initiatives:
- Through the Dr. and Mrs. John Thomas Scholarship Fund, we ensure all students have access to The Domes School Field Trip Program. In Fiscal Year 2022, 85% of field trip participants qualified as economically disadvantaged.
- We source local businesses and artists in the Gift Shop and as vendors at events. Currently, there are 25 local artists and businesses represented in the Gift Shop, several of whom live in the Clarke Square Neighborhood (the community surrounding The Domes).
- We provide library experience passes to Milwaukee County libraries so that their members can access The Domes at no cost.
- We provide free passes and memberships to seniors, refugees, veterans groups, and community organizations.
- We host community events and provide scholarships for those unable to pay the entrance fee: Día de Muertos (2,000 attendees) and Educational Symposium (125 attendees).