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Celebrating a half a century of the Week of the Young Child

By Susan Shinn Turner

Smart Start Rowan


This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Week of the Young Child, and Smart Start Rowan and its partner agencies joined in the celebration — again virtually this year — from April 10 to 16.


Week of the Young Child promotes the needs of young children and their families and recognizes the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. Smart Start Rowan serves children throughout Rowan County ages birth to 5.


“The Week of the Young Child gives us an opportunity to recognize people who make lives better for our children,” says Sarah Paynter, Smart Start Rowan’s outreach and development specialist.


Local child care centers that participated in the festivities were St. John’s Lutheran Church Child Development Center, Kiddie Land Kindergarten and Joy-N-The Morning Home Childcare Center. But families with kids at home could also participate in the activities.


Each day of the week focused on a fun theme:


Music Monday: Participating centers submitted music and singing videos to the Smart Start Rowan Facebook page.


Tasty Tuesday: Toi Degree, a member of the Smart Start Rowan board of directors, shared Breakfast Cones, a healthy recipe geared toward children. She is the family and consumer education agent with Rowan County Cooperative Extension.


Work Together Wednesday: The staff of Smart Start Rowan posted about what they enjoy doing away from work, and gave its thanks to board members and committee members for their time and talents.


Artsy Thursday: St. John’s and Joy in the Morning sent videos and pictures of their children creating artwork throughout the day.


Family Friday: Alissa Redmond, owner of South Main Book Store, along with daughter Margaret, shared two of their favorite books on Facebook Live.


On Friday, SSR also took time to reflect on its 25th anniversary year and the legacy of the late Shirley P. Ritchie, the organization’s founder.


“We were glad to be able to celebrate Week of the Young Child,” says Joanna Smith of St. John’s CDC. “I sent the schedule to the teachers and we brainstormed activities they could do for each day. The teachers put together the schedule and posted photos and videos to our Facebook page. I really think the kids enjoyed it, especially Tasty Tuesday. The teachers were very receptive.”


On Family Friday, Smith says, children came in dressed as what they want to be when they grow up. “It was the cutest thing.”


Week of the Young Child was also a success at Joy-N-The Morning Home Childcare Center, says owner Denise Lyerly.


“It went really well,” she says. “On Music Monday we danced and we sang. I actually took the dancing outside, so we danced all day Monday.”


The kids were also excited about Artsy Thursday, she says. One student was ready to do art when he arrived at 7:10 a.m. Another 2-year-old student cried when he had to stop painting.


Otherwise, she says, “Everyone had smiles on their faces. The whole week was really good. I’m thankful Smart Start Rowan chose my facility to participate in Week of the Young Child. I love Smart Start and I love (executive director) Miss Amy!”


You can find all of these posts and more about the Week of the Young Child on the Smart Start Rowan and St. John’s CDC Facebook pages.


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