02/20/06 — Program gives parents tips on early learning

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Program gives parents tips on early learning

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 20, 2006 1:49 PM

The Partnership for Children of Wayne County is confident that a grant from the United Way and a media blitz this spring will inspire parents to create teachable moments with their children.

The Born Learning campaign is a nationwide effort that promotes quality early learning opportunities for children. It also fits nicely into ongoing efforts of the partnership, says its director, Don Magoon.

"We see this is as an opportunity to bring more people to us and, in turn, to refer them out to other service providers. Part of our goal and mission is to have a one-stop shop for early child care providers," he said. "We're very grateful that the United Way of Wayne County has agreed to fund it."

The campaign features an array of colorful, informative materials that can be personalized and customized. Cards and brochures offer tips for parents to use in everyday settings and cover a variety of topics that include child care, feeding, fatherhood and discipline.

Preliminary meetings have been held for parents, allowing them to critique a variety of materials available and to make suggestions about distribution. A community agency meeting was also held recently at the Wayne County Public Library to discuss the grant and an upcoming kickoff event to publicize the program.

The public awareness campaign will target parents, caregivers and others whose lives impact children, said Lorie Lee, director of programs for the partnership. She said the goal is to mobilize the county around the notion of early learning.

"We hope to carry it out at three different levels," she said -- awareness, education and action.

The partnership office funds 13 programs that cater to children from birth to 5 years old, Ms. Lee said, and every parent needs information. The Born Learning program is another way to distribute information that will make a difference in attitudes and the lives of families, she said.

"The idea is that everyday moments matter," she said. "Ad Council research shows that parents believe they lack time to provide early learning opportunities. (The) ads communicate that everyday moments can easily be turned into quality learning moments. You might not feel like you have time to work with your kids and teach them things, but you do if you just take the time."

Some of the ads have already begun, she said, citing billboards as one example. One bears the message, "I spy something green," she said, which serves as a conversation starter while a parent is driving down the road with a child.

Patty Huffman, community services coordinator, said agencies such as WAGES, the Health Department and physicians groups will also provide input on ways to deliver the message throughout the community.

The next phase of the campaign will be a public kickoff event to generate interest and awareness. A target date has been set for Saturday, May 13, she said.

In the meantime, the Website www.bornlearning.org also provides more information, Mrs. Huffman said.

The $24,565 one-year grant is a golden opportunity for the partnership to enhance its services and support future generations, Magoon said.

"We're trying to do more to educate from birth. We have ways to do outreach for all the kids in child care because our staff is working in these areas, but for the folks that aren't familiar with us, or just don't know about us, I really think this is a way to help us connect with people," he said.