(Kids Central)
– At a local park in Wise, Co., VA, Kids Central’s families, staff, and administrators held a large celebration to mark the end of another successful school year. This fun “End-of-the-Year Blast” had a camping theme, complete with scavenger hunt bags, crafty binoculars, ingredients for s’mores trail mix, and children’s fishing poles. Many of the classrooms embraced the natural theme of the event ahead of time, by putting a campsite right in the class, and learning about animals and the outdoors.

Parents engaged in various outdoor activities promoting kindergarten readiness, child development, healthy eating, and early literacy. Local community agencies and organizations attended the event and offered resources to the parents and families. The local health department set up a full WIC clinic, the Department of Social Services provided information on TANF and SNAP benefits, the local county school gave out kindergarten enrollment and disabilities services information, and the Virginia Corporative Extension consulted with families about their budgeting and cooking classes.

A healthy, camping-themed lunch was also prepared and served to everyone. Eighty percent of the food served was donated by PFG Hale, Kids Central’s food distributor, so the families could become familiar with the quality and type of food served in the classroom. Lastly, picnic blankets and hardback books were donated for each family to take home, to continue quality time together long after the “camp-out” was over. Lindsey Sturgill, Family Involvement Specialist shared, “The children enjoyed each activity very much. They had fun, and parents could engage with them at the same time. Also, they learned a little about math, science, healthy eating, fine and gross motor development.”


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This story is part of United Way of Southwest Virginia’s spotlight series highlighting five programs in our Virginia Quality network during the 2017 Week of the Young Child™, when we formally recognize the importance of early learning and early literacy and celebrate the providers who bring early childhood education to young children. Through these stories, you will see the investment these programs are making in the lives of tomorrow’s workforce – teaching them to create, learn, eat healthy, sing, dance, problem-solve, think, engage, and celebrate – and preparing them for the next steps in their journey through life in Southwest Virginia. To read other stories in this Week of the Young Child™ spotlight series, visit www.netnswvarelief.wpengine.com/week-of-the-young-child.

United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life. Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change. With a footprint that covers almost 15% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia serves Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise, and the cities of Galax and Norton. For more information about United Way of Southwest Virginia, visit www.UnitedWaySWVA.org.

Week of the Young Child™, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), is an opportunity for early childhood programs across the country, including child care and Head Start programs, preschools, and elementary schools, to hold activities to bring awareness to the needs of young children. For more information and inspiration on how you can celebrate Week of the Young Child™, visit www.naeyc.org.