By Lynne Bridges
Special to The SUN
Week of the Young Child honors the more than 35 million children from birth through age 8 in America, as well as the families, teachers and other care givers who help children make the most of the opportunities during their early years.
Investing in the youngest citizens of Archuleta County’s lives is an opportunity that all of us can participate in.
James Heckman says, “The need to invest in the lives of our young children is both a fundamental and moral responsibility as well as a critical investment in our nation’s social and economic future.”
Neurons to Neighborhoods tell us, “From birth to age 5 children rapidly develop foundational capabilities on which subsequent development builds. In addition to their remarkable linguistic and cognitive gains, they exhibit dramatic progress in their emotional, social regulatory and moral capacities. Striking disparities in what children know and can do are evident well before they enter kindergarten (achievement gap). These differences are strongly associated with social and economic circumstances and they are predictive of subsequent academic performance. Redressing these disparities is critical, both for children whose life opportunities are at stake and for a society whose goals demand that children be prepared to begin school, achieve academic success and ultimately sustain economic independence and engage constructively with others as adult citizens.”
Would you please join us as we celebrate the Week of the Young Child and build support for programs and policies that are vital to young children of Archuleta County? The following are activities for the Week of the Young Child.
* The Kid’s Fair on Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the elementary school multipurpose room will be the kickoff of WOYC. This is a free event for children to participate in lots of fun “hands-on” activities. There will be a car seat safety check and maybe even a “big” fire truck or two to climb in. Kiwanis will be serving a free lunch. Call Anette McInnis at 731-3512 if you’d like to set up a booth. Southwest Organization for Sustainability is sponsoring Mobilize the Earth. Please join them in Town Park on Saturday, April 20, from noon-6 p.m. for beer, wine, music, food and vendors, kid’s activities, aikido demonstrations and more. In case of inclement weather, the event will move to the Extension Building at the fairgrounds.
• Monday, April 22, is Doll Day. Every year, the Colorado Children’s Campaign works hard to ensure the voices of all children are heard by community and government leaders throughout Colorado. Cardboard dolls are made by children and volunteers to represent children who are being appropriately served and those who are not receiving the health, education, safety and nurturing they need to thrive. The completed dolls will be placed in prominent places throughout the community. The intent is to influence community and business leaders, politicians and the public at-large to invest in our children in the form of community-based, long-term prevention strategies and programs for children and their families. If you would like to request a doll for your child or business, contact Rose Salas at Pagosa Early Childhood Head Start, 264-2484.
• Tuesday, April 23, is Love your Teacher Day. Teaching and teachers matter, so this is the perfect day for you to let them know how much they are appreciated.
• Wednesday, April 24, is Be a Team Player Day. This is the day to be the No. 1 fan of your favorite sports team. And, of course, it will be the Pagosa Pirates, right?
• Thursday, April 25, is the Night of the Young Child — a wonderful opportunity to support and honor our children and their many talents. This event will be held at Restoration Fellowship Church from 6 to 8 p.m. This year’s event will host piano players, dancers, and jokesters, just to name a few. Come and join us as we support and honor our local youth. For more information or to sign up, call Lynne Bridges at Seeds of Learning, 264-5513.
• On Friday, April 27, Liberty Theatre will offer a 2 p.m. matinee. The movie “Brave” will be playing. Tickets for $5 will include a small popcorn and drink. Bring a friend and watch a movie after school gets out.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children has a vision for excellence. All states must develop a system of early childhood care and education with appropriate regulatory, governance, finance and accountability mechanisms so that:
All children have access to a safe and accessible, high quality early childhood education that includes a developmentally appropriate curriculum, knowledgeable and well-trained program staff and educators, comprehensive services that support their health, nutrition, and social well-being, in an environment that respects and supports diversity.
All early childhood professionals are supported as professionals with a career ladder, ongoing professional development opportunities, and compensation that will attract and retain high quality educators.
All families have access to early care and education programs that are affordable and of high quality, and are participants in the education and well-being of their children through family involvement in programs and schools, as well as opportunities to increase their educational attainment.
All communities are accountable for the quality of early childhood programs provided to all children, backed by the local, state and federal funding needed to deliver quality programs and services.
Making this vision of excellence a reality will require a commitment from and a partnership among the federal, state and local governments, business and labor sector, private institutions and the public. We must join forces to advocate and implement the policies at the appropriate federal, state and local levels that will lead to excellence in early childhood education programs.
Week of the Young Child is brought to you by the Archuleta’s Children Team (ACT) Council — a coalition of licensed early care and education providers and support groups, is dedicated to improving and continuing high quality early care and education in Archuleta County.
If you are interested in joining the ACT Council in a Vision for Excellence for the children and families of Archuleta County, contact Lynne Bridges at 264-5513.