By Dave O’Keeffe, CISL Executive Director
On Nov. 16 a crowd of parents and kids met at the Centerforce building in Springbrook, located outside the entrance to McChord Airforce Base, for CISL’s “Growing Up is Fun!” Family night. Eighteen families, mostly Hispanic, gathered for a free dinner, children’s activities and break-out sessions for parents. The goal was to give parents resources and advice on how to best prepare their children for kindergarten.
Hundreds of children in Lakewood enter Kindergarten without any formal preschool experience. In many cases, they are 1-2 years behind their peers when they start school, and must struggle to catch up. ECEAP leaders, Timmie Foster and Santita Rivera, met with parents to talk about parenting skills and healthy childhood development. Volunteers read with kids and helped them with a Thanksgiving art projects while their parents were in the break-out sessions.
The “Growing Up is Fun!” Family nights are significant because they bring parents into contact with specialists who speak both English and Spanish. Each parent receives a “Growing Up Is Fun!” bag full of bilingual educational resources, agency brochures, and children’s books.
Comcast and Target are major sponsors for the “Growing Up is Fun!” events and the resource bags. Caring for Kids provides notebooks, crayons, pencils, dental kits and an ABC necklace craft. CISL has organized 6 family nights and given away over 2,500 “Growing Up Is Fun!” bags over the past three years, thanks to this unique collaboration.
Special thanks to CenterForce for allowing CISL to use their facility, Diane Formoso for heading up the event, and the many volunteers who made this an evening to remember!