Pre-school students from the Memorial No. 1 Head Start class recently visited Albright LIFE Center to celebrate "The Week of the Young Child" in conjunction with a PA One Book reading of the story "If You Were a Penguin", a program implemented locally by the Lycoming County Community Engagement Group in partnership with the James V. Brown Library.
The state of Pennsylvania's "One Book, Every Young Child" initiative encourages adults to read to children early and often as well as engage in discussion about books and stories, which is crucial to early learning.
"We were thrilled to have more than 100 readings to 3,000 pre-school and kindergarten-age children throughout Lycoming County from Hughesville to Jersey Shore this year," said Jennifer Bolich of the engagement group, and early childhood education coordinator at Lycoming County United Way. "In addition to promoting early reading with children, our group decided to use the PA One Book as a transition tool by reading in preschool classrooms in the spring and supplying it to kindergarten teachers to read with many of the same children the following fall."
Smiles abound as Head Start students and Albright LIFE Center participants share songs and activities together.
The group placed volunteer adult readers in preschool and day care facilities throughout the three week period, but in this case, the students went to the readers.
Albright LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) is the local version of the nationally recognized Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.
"This unique program provides comprehensive healthcare and supportive services that enable participants to remain at home and live as independently as possible for as long as desirable and feasible," explained Perry Landon, executive director of Albright LIFE. "The LIFE Center is the hub of the program and the site of the medical clinic, adult day care program, and service coordination. The LIFE Center is a place where our participants can take part in a wide variety of social, recreational, and medical services in a safe, stimulating, and nurturing environment."
When 16 Head Start pre-schoolers arrived at The LIFE Center recently, it was difficult to tell who was more delighted - the children or the seniors.
Barbara Shirk, a day care participant at Albright LIFE and retired Head Start bus driver, read "If You Were a Penguin" to the group. Then, the children, who had written and illustrated stories of their own to prepare for the visit, split into pairs so that each child could share his or her story with the seniors.
Head Start, a program of STEP Inc., promotes school-readiness by providing early childhood education and comprehensive health, nutritional and social services to income-eligible young children and their families.
"The kids really enjoyed the story and the interaction with the seniors. We appreciate the Community Engagement Group and United Way bringing us (Head Start and Albright LIFE) together," said Sally Lomison, Head Start teacher. "We plan to continue this partnership and outings to Albright LIFE because it is a win-win situation. It helps to build social skills for the children and provides an enjoyable interactive activity for the seniors."
"We are thrilled to have the Head Start children spend time with our participants. This kind of intergenerational experience is rewarding for all involved and helps both Head Start and Albright LIFE form a sense of community between the two organizations," added Landon.
Last year, United Way allocated $10,000 to Albright LIFE-Albright Care for transportation for seniors to the facility and $2,000 to Head Start's "Raising Great Kids" program as two Impact Initiative grants.
"The United Way Impact Initiative Program provides time-limited grants for innovative programs and services that meet priority and/or unique human-service needs in Lycoming County," explained Shea Madden, volunteer chair of the United Way community building committee. "We were pleased to provide funding to these worthy programs and happy to see the two collaborate together."
For more information on Albright LIFE call 322-5433 or 1-800-907-LIFE or visit www.albrightlife.org/lycoming.
For more information about Head Start, call 601-9601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Lycoming County United Way or to support the campaign that funds programs like these, visit www.lcuw.org or call 323-9448.