Celebrating our youngest learners during Week of the Young Child


cover-_NAX5415By Lynne Bridges

Special to The PREVIEW

The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world’s largest early childhood education association, with nearly 80,000 members and a network of over 300 local, state and regional affiliates.

The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.

NAEYC first established the Week of the Young Child in 1971, recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life. The Week of the Young Child is a time to plan how we — as citizens of a community, of a state and of a nation — will better meet the needs of all young children and their families.

Monday, April 20, is Doll Day. Every year, the Colorado Children’s Campaign works very hard to ensure the voice of all children is 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, please contact Rose Salas at Pagosa Early Childhood Head Start at 264-2484.

Tuesday, April 21, is the infamous Night of the Young Child. Night of the Young Child is 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 7:30 p.m. This year’s event will host piano players, dancers, singers and violin players, just to name a few. Come and join us as we cheer on our youngest citizens and their many talents. For more information or to sign up, please call Lynne Bridges at Seeds of Learning, 264-5513.

Wednesday, April 22, is Wiggle Wednesday. This is the day to get your wiggles out. Programs will create a physical fitness activity for their children and/or families to participate in. The percentage of children aged 6-11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12-19 years who were obese increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent over the same period. It’s not too early to practice healthy physical fitness routines.

There will be a free Immunization Clinic at San Juan Basin Health (on 8th Street) from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. San Juan Basin Health provides routine childhood and adult immunizations in collaboration with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), along with monitoring community immunization rates. Their immunization program also works in partnership with community child care centers and schools in monitoring vaccination rates and tracking. Due to Archuleta County’s lack of pediatric providers, all children in Archuleta County automatically qualify for our state-funded Vaccines for Children Program, meaning regardless of ability to pay or insurance status, all children that live in Archuleta County can receive their immunizations through San Juan Basin Health for little to no cost.

Currently, the Pagosa office is open the first Thursday day of every month for an Immunization Clinic. They will be increasing their presence in the Pagosa office beginning this summer from once a month to biweekly visits. In collaboration with the county’s school district, they will also be planning special Back to School Immunization Clinics based on community need. To make an immunization appointment, please call 264-2409.

On Thursday, April 23, a documentary brought to you by Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting System, “Are We Crazy About Our Kids?” will be showing (free of charge) at the Liberty Theatre at 6:30 p.m. Investing in high-quality early care and education pays for itself in many ways and many times over. This episode brings to life the classic economic studies of Perry Preschool and other initiatives conducted by Nobel laureate James Heckman, Arthur Rolnick and others which illustrate how we can either invest early for success or pay more for failure later. Join us to watch the film and engage in a conversation with a panel of local experts.

On Friday, April 24, there will be a matinee at the Liberty Theatre starting at 2 p.m. The movie “The Fox and the Hound” will be playing. There will be a $5 charge for the movie, a small drink and popcorn.

The Kid’s Fair on Saturday, April 25, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the elementary school multipurpose room will be the wrap up to the Week of the Young Child. There will be fun activities for kids and lots of information for families about programs and services offered in Archuleta County; all free. There will be a car seat safety check and maybe even a big fire truck or two to climb in. The Centerpoint Church Youth Group will be serving a free lunch. Call Anette McInnis at 731-3512 if you’d like to set up a booth.

Investing in the youngest citizens of Archuleta County’s lives is an opportunity that all of us can participate in. James Heckman said, “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.”

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.

The 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, please contact Bridges at 264-5513.