Young childrens' eyes lit up and parents were all smiles at the Juneau Early Learning Fair Aug. 17 at Glacier Valley Elementary School. More than 250 people attended the event, and more than 25 local organizations participated, with support from a grant from Best Beginnings.
While parents learned about community resources for families in Juneau, children had a great time with face painting, animal balloons, an obstacle course, healthy snack-making and dozens of activity booths. Each child received a free book and prize after exploring different activities. More than 70 health and development screenings were completed, along with immunizations, car seat safety checks and school and Head Start registrations.
Sen. Dennis Egan was a guest of honor to help distribute the door-prizes and Jeff Brown magically created balloon animals out of thin air, much to the delight of children attending. Door prizes were contributed by the Mt. Roberts Tramway, Augustus Brown Swimming Pool, the Dimond Park Field House, the Alaska Club, Twin Lakes Café, Hearthside Books and Gross Alaska Theatres. Principal Ted Wilson assisted in planning the event, and the custodial staff and office staff went out of their way to support the event with cheerful patience. Volunteers that helped with childrens activities included Elizabeth Ringle, Antonette Cuanzon, Katie Conomos, Monica Hinson-Wilson, Victoria Wilcox and from Montana House.
The event demonstrated the collaboration and commitment of so many people and organizations to support the health, growth and development of young children, and work toward every Juneau child being ready to succeed by the time they enter kindergarten. Hats off to the Kids On the Move car seat safety check crew, Dr. Amy Dressel, Dr. George Brown, Thea Jefferies and all the Vaccinate Juneau and JUMPP medical providers, to Ric Iannolino and the FASD Diagnostic Team, the Flying Lion's Vision screening team, Brenda Hewitt and the indoor "Born Learning Trail," and all the other organizations that made it all happen for children and families at the fair and are there for families every day: RALLY, Community Café, Alaska Center for Resource Families, SEARHC Dental Clinic and WIC, TANF, AEYC, Juneau Public Libraries, SERRC, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Tlingit and Haida Headstart, Juneau Public Health Center, Juneau Youth Services, AWARE, REACH Infant Learning Program, Juneau Family Health and Birth Center, Juneau Parks and Recreation and the Juneau School District.
Partnerships for Families and Children planned and hosted the event with funding and technical support from Best Beginnings. Juneau is one of 11 communities in Alaska to have a local collaboration of early childhood organizations that work together throughout the year to coordinate services and increase support for young children, from prenatal care to age 5. For more information about Partnerships for Families and Children, or additional activities for families with young children, visit www.southeastfamilies.org.