Celebration focuses on children's needs

As Americans soldiers sit detained by Chinese officials, and epidemics such as Mad Cow and Foot and Mouth disease threaten overseas meat production, many Americans tend to forget about the issues that we are facing in the U.S.

As April showers bring May flowers, April also brings something just as important, "The Week of the Young Child."

"Week of the Young Child", an initiative from the Washington, D.C. - based National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), is a time devoted to focusing public attention on the needs of young children and their families.

With households continuing to see an increase in two-parent working families, it can often be the children, and their day-care providers as well, who get lost in the hectic day-to-day shuffle.

"This week is a great way to let the parents of our preschool-aged children in our community know exactly what we do once they drop their kids off and go to work," said Judy Whilden, owner of Sunrise Kids, LLC. Preschool and Child Care. "It helps them to realize that we are professionals, and it allows them to see that we are involved in programs that help pre-school-aged children achieve educational growth.

"We offer much more than just daycare to these children," she said. "And this week is a great opportunity to enlighten the public as well."

Anne Pankonin, of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurses Association, is also involved in the efforts to raise child awareness during the month of April, and according to her, there is still a lot of work to be done in the community.

"April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and we are hoping to educate adults about the things that they can do to become better parents, as well as ways that we can continue to combat child abuse.

"It is important that the public is aware that there are many different services available to parents in Moffat County."

"Week of the Young Child" is a nationally-sponsored week held every April. In Craig, Whilden has a wide array of activities planned to highlight pre-schoolers contributions to the community, and make the community aware of their presence as well.

"We have a variety of activities planned that are community oriented, and on Friday, we end the week in true fashion with a Friday buffet lunch. We invite the parents so that they can attend and share lunch with their children.

"The businesses in our community are really great by letting the parents of our pre-schoolers attend this luncheon," she said. "It allows them to spend some time that they normally wouldn't be able to, and in the end, everyone benefits."

Whilden also sees this week giving parents of toddlers seeking the right pre-school, the opportunity to witness the types of educational activities that take place.

"What people must realize in the day-care business is that you get what you pay for," Whilden said. "Quality care is not free, and although we attempt to make it as affordable as possible, we have the same budgetary constraints that a regular school does.

"Unfortunately, when you schedule a lot of educational events, it sometimes ends up costing both the school and parents a little more money."

Sunrise Kids LLC. Pre-School and Day Care has activities planned all week to raise community awareness about pre-school aged children:

Today The students will Dr. Dushan Voyich, a Craig dentist, who will teach the importance of dental care.

Tuesday Sidewalk chalk art at Alice Pleasant Park.

Wednesday A visit to the Craig- Moffat County Library.

Thursday In the morning students will hear a presentation from Beth DuBois, of the Colorado University Extension Office. She will discuss the importance of nutrition and health. In the afternoon students will participate in an Easter Egg hunt the Breeze Street park.

Friday Picnic lunch at the pre-school for students and parents.

The Moffat County Early Childhood Coalition, a collaborative effort among local agencies and organizations is also supporting the "Week of the Young Child", with activities planned to raise child awareness:

Every Monday Playgroup for infants and toddlers from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the Early Childhood Center, 775 Yampa Ave. For more information, call 824-7457, Ext. 24.

Today Special Shot Clinic for children up to five years old. For an appointment, call the VNA at 824-8233.

Thursday The Spectrum of Eating Disorders, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Moffat County High School. For more information, call 824-4529.

Saturday Easter Egg Hunt at 10 a.m. at the City Park.

Saturday "Celebrate Children's Festival", from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Centennial Mall, which provides free information for parents and activities for children.

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