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Week of the Young Child activities continue

By Susan Shinn Turner

Smart Start Rowan

For months, the staff of Smart Start Rowan has been planning activities for the Week of the Young Child, which is this week. Instead of canceling the programming, staffers are celebrating virtually.

“We have been planning this since Christmas,” notes Sarah Paynter, outreach and development specialist. “Now it has to be virtual.”

Smart Start Rowan serves all children ages birth to 5 throughout Rowan County. The week’s events have mirrored what’s been planned by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, but it’s up to local agencies to make the observance their own.

“I’m from the Virgin Islands,” says Shurna Rabsatt, family support program lead. “Even there, they are creating events around this theme.”

Events have been posted on the agency’s Facebook page, Smart Start Rowan.

The week began with Music Monday. Children at St. John’s Child Development Center got to enjoy singing and playing instruments.

Chelsea Childers, children’s outreach program supervisor with Rowan Public Library, also sang children’s songs and provided a closing song.

Tasty Tuesday involved Toi Degree of the Rowan County Cooperative Extension Service and a Smart Start Rowan board member presenting a cooking video geared toward young children so that families could prepare meals together.

Since only two Smart Start Rowan staff members can currently be in the office at the same time, Work Together Wednesday involved collaborating to create a piece of shared artwork, with additions each day.

“We really do miss each other greatly,” Paynter says. “It’s difficult when we don’t see each other face to face.”

During Artsy Thursday, staff members Jamie Guagliano, early education program lead and Ermalyn Jaeck, parent educator, plan to share videos of their children’s art projects today. Additionally, program assistant Addy Cofer’s mother, Angie Cofer, is the owner of Little Angels Home Child Care. The two will be sharing video of the children’s craft activities as well, Paynter says. “This showcases the good things going on in our local home childcare centers.”

Finally, on Family Friday, Alissa Redmond will be reading children’s books at her bookstore, South Main Book Co. Smart Start Rowan is a sponsor of Imagination Library, the program in which Dolly Parton gives books to children up to age 5. The country music superstar has been reading children’s books online, as have other celebrities. A cutout of Parton has been making the rounds all over Rowan County, and remains at the book store for the moment, Paynter says.

Despite the obstacles presented by the coronavirus, the women are soldiering on.

“We wanted it to still happen,” Paynter says. “We’d put a lot of work into it.”

“We didn’t want this situation to stop us,” Rabsatt adds. “As we are adjusting to doing more virtually, we can be more creative. It’s really exciting. It shows how everyone can rise above the situation to provide programs that still need to happen for our children.”

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