The Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) Southeast Alaska is celebrating 30 years of early childhood education with a “mobile mural” entitled: All Aboard for Early Learning.
“This is really our gift to the community to recognize and celebrate how everyone has come together in Southeast Alaska to support young children,” said Executive Director Joy Lyon.
The van was painted by Rob Logan, a former artist in the schools in Juneau, and purchased with a significant contribution from Affordable Auto, along with savings from the past 30 years of the organization’s fundraising efforts and support from their statewide partners, Thread and Best Beginnings.
According to Lyon, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library served as a vehicle to mobilize community efforts around early literacy. Everyone from grandparents, to P.E.O. chapters, United Way contributors, Friends of the Juneau Public Library and partner agencies have stepped forward to support early learning efforts, leading to more adults understanding the importance of early brain development through reading, talking, and listening to very young children.
The babies enrolled five years ago when the Dolly Parton Imagination Library was launched in Juneau have just started kindergarten this past fall, after receiving a free book in the mail every month from the program.
“We had a hunch that having a home library of 60 books, each of them read dozens of times, would have an impact. But it’s good to see the hard data that shows a striking gain in kindergarten readiness assessments,” said Lyon.
According to Alaska Department of Education & Early Development data, Juneau children have gone from behind the state averages of kindergarten readiness indicators to significantly above, for an overall 10 percent gain over the past three years.
There are nearly 1,800 children enrolled in Southeast Alaska. The Dolly Parton Foundation provides the shipping, handling, and coordination nationally to over 1,600 communities, and Best Beginnings provides community grants to serve the approximately 60 communities operating the program across the state.
AEYC Southeast will be officially unveiling the van at the 30th anniversary conference to be held March 30 and 31 at Centennial Hall. It will be kept well stocked with early learning materials, parent bulletins, and information about community resources. The van will also be used for special neighborhood outreach events this spring and summer, as well as ongoing outreach to family night events, Parents As Teachers visits, and on-site trainings to child care programs.
AEYC Southeast works to inspire and mobilize adults to nurture the learning, health, and wellbeing of young children. For more information call 789-1235 or go to www.aeyc-sea.org