WOYC: the importance of outdoor learning and play

by Administrator 10. April 2014 13:36

Engaging in meaningful outdoor activities has a deep impact on the healthy development of young children, and some of the most exploratory learning often takes place in nature. During Week of the Young Child, we’d like to celebrate the important positive impact of our outstanding Outdoor Learning Environments here in Durham.

Allowing children to explore the natural world provides a multitude of learning opportunities, and an outdoor play space can ignite a child’s learning and imagination in a way that is much different than inside the classroom. Aside from the well-known benefits of outdoor play – such as obesity prevention, learning from sensory experiences, and encouraging physical activity – there are many other far-reaching developmental benefits. 

Children who are playing together outdoors, making up games, and following rules are learning to work together as a team, building creativity, and establishing sound ethics and positive attitudes. Children who plant flowers and grow vegetables are developing an appreciation for nature as well as an understanding of food systems and healthy choices.

 

 

 

 

 

Research shows that children’s social, psychological, academic and physical health is positively impacted when they have daily contact with nature. According to the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University, these positive impacts include the following: 

  • Supports multiple development domains 
  • Supports creativity and problem solving
  • Enhances cognitive abilities
  • Improves academic performance 
  • Reduces Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms 
  • Increases physical activity
  • Improves nutrition 
  • Improves eyesight
  • Improves social relations
  • Improves self-discipline
  • Reduces stress

Bryson’s Christian Montessori School is one example of a beautiful outdoor learning environment. This morning, volunteers from PNC’s Grow Up Great program helped plant flowers and explored the outdoors with children in the Early Head Start and NC Pre-K classes. In addition to enjoying the sunny spring weather, everyone involved left with an appreciation for the power of nature and the importance of learning through play.

WOYC: volunteers making a difference for young children

by Administrator 9. April 2014 15:06

In addition to being Week of the Young Child, this week is also National Volunteer Appreciation Week! Our volunteers are making a difference that lasts a lifetime, and it is with their help that we’re able to reach so many young children and families in Durham. We could not do what we do without our volunteers, so it makes perfect sense for these celebrations to go hand in hand!

Here’s a peek at just some of the ways that volunteers are helping during Week of the Young Child:

  • Volunteers engaged the community at events like the Children’s Festival at Northgate Mall and the Pinwheels for Prevention Family Fun Day at Wheels Fun Park.
  • Volunteers are providing the essential building blocks for early literacy and language development through our Readers as Leaders program. Our readers visit classrooms in child care centers in Durham each week, using the power of their friendship to build a love of reading and enhancing the necessary language, cognitive, and early reading development required for continued school success.

  • Volunteers helped at the NC Pre-K “Blitz” Open Application Day. Along with Partnership staff and other collaborative partners, they processed walk-in applications for the NC Pre-K 2014-15 school year.

  • Volunteers are building Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits, a key component of our Transition to Kindergarten Initiative. The Kits provide school readiness materials designed to prepare children and families for the transition from home to kindergarten, and each one contains items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. We will distribute 1,600 Kits to at-risk children this year, all of which will be assembled by volunteers.

  • Volunteers are maintaining the safety and beauty of the outdoor learning environment at Bryson’s Christian Montessori School, a Durham Early Head Start and NC Pre-K site. Engaging in meaningful outdoor activities has a deep impact on the healthy development of young children. Volunteers will also help to plant vegetables and herbs in the garden, which develops children’s understanding of food systems and improves environmental attitudes and food choices. 
  • Volunteers are helping to guide the work of the Partnership by lending their time, expertise, and passion for early childhood by serving on our Board of Directors and Committees.

We would like to thank all of our volunteers for the valuable work they do, as they make a world of difference in the lives of young children across Durham County. If you are interested in volunteering with the Partnership, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn at krissy@dpfc.net or (919) 403-6960 ext. 230.

Thank you for making a difference for young children!

Durham Head Start children receive free dental care from UNC School of Dentistry

by Administrator 24. February 2014 13:22

By: Lynsay Williams
Guest blogger
UNC Chapel Hill Class of 2016
Journalism and Hispanic Studies Major


February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and in honor of this, organizations across the nation held Give Kids a Smile events to promote good oral hygiene. On Friday, February 7th, the UNC School of Dentistry hosted the first ever Give Kids a Smile event at UNC. The event included free dental cleaning as well as an interactive health fair. 

I don’t know if the name of the event originated from giving kids a healthy smile by giving them free dental cleaning or putting a smile on their face with all the fun activities, but the approximately 119 children from Durham Head Start, ages 3-5, that came to UNC got both!

In addition to free dental exams, they got to be dentists themselves - complete with a medical gowns, masks and dental mirrors - and count the teeth of Mr. Elephant, a very accommodating patient. Have you ever seen a three-foot tall dentist? Needless to say, Mr. Elephant was not afraid, for he was in good hands! Mr. Elephant had some equally toothy, equally fluffy friends that needed help with their brushing. The children stepped up to the plate with the help of some very large brushes and volunteers.

Other professional schools at UNC participated too, including the Schools of Nursing, Medicine, and the Gillings School of Global Public Health, to incorporate activities on nutrition and wellness. The children also had the opportunity to engage with UNC athletes for some physical activity, an important part of the Head Start program.

Each station was aimed at creating positive associations in the minds of the children participating, so that they can be good dental patients and health patients in the future. After all the fun they were exposed to that day, I can’t imagine they would think of anything else when going to the dentist.

The event was also very inclusive. There were parents, Head Start teachers and the Director of Durham Head Start, Terry David. The children had fun and learned a lot about oral care and hygiene, but David offered something else that they could take away from the event. He said the fair was planting “seeds of achievement” by showcasing several health professions.

Maybe in the future the children will want to move their dentistry work beyond teddy bears. But whether or not there were future dentists, doctors, or nurses among the group, they got some interactive lessons that children and parents can incorporate into their daily routines. 

Everyone from Head Start was very appreciative for the opportunities the children received at the event. But honestly, I don’t know who was happier to be there - the kids or the volunteers!

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For more information about the Partnership’s efforts to address children’s dental health in Durham, please click here to learn about the Great Human Race and help us reach our goal of raising $3,000 for dental health kits.

 For more information about the Give Kids a Smile day at UNC, please click here.

Race with us to support children's dental health!

by Administrator 20. February 2014 13:45

On March 29th, we are participating once again in the Great Human Race to address the crisis of poor dental health in young children. The Great Human Race is a 5K and 10K community walk and run sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Durham to support local nonprofits. 

We need your help!

Our goal is to raise $3,000 to provide dental health kits to young children and families in Durham, at a cost of $10 per kit. We know that children with healthy teeth have better attendance and are more attentive in school, have the self confidence that comes with an attractive smile, and have a better chance of good general health. Preventive dental care beginning with infants is the best way to ensure proper oral hygiene is a part of a child’s daily routine and that children are receiving regular dental cleanings.




 


Each kit will contain a toothbrush, toothpaste, child flossing tools, washcloth, dental health activity booklet and crayons, and
The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss. The kits will be distributed along with a presentation about dental health for young children and their parents. At a cost of just $10 per kit, you can easily make a direct impact for Durham's children.

Visit our fundraising page to learn more and to donate directly to the Partnership. You can also join our team and register to come walk/run with us on race day! And if you’d like to get your friends, family and co-workers involved, you can create a group and set a fundraising goal of your own to get other people to support the Partnership.

Thanks for helping us spread the message that healthy smiles lead to a happy life!

The impact of your donations

by Administrator 15. August 2013 10:37

"In Durham County, 17% of kindergartners have untreated tooth decay." (NC CATCH)

"33% of children age three to five have cavities in baby teeth. Tooth decay is still the major cause of tooth loss in children." (NHANES, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

"Children with healthy teeth have better attendance and are more attentive in school." (American Journal of Public Health)

 

In April of this year, Durham’s Partnership for Children participated in the 2013 Great Human Race to raise funds to help address the crisis of poor dental health in young children. Preventive dental care beginning with infants is the best way to ensure proper oral hygiene is a part of a child’s daily routine and that children are receiving dental cleanings at age one.
 
Our campaign brought in just over $1,000 – thanks to some very generous donors in the Durham community.  We purchased supplies and materials (toothbrushes, toothpaste, child flossing tools, an early dental health instruction booklet, coloring pages, crayons, and a Dr. Seuss book on teeth), and even had some items donated from stakeholders in the dental health field:  DenTek Oral Care, Duke Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Gary Hill, and Southpoint Pediatric Dentistry.

We recruited volunteers to help build dental health kits with those supplies.

As a result, the Partnership was able to distribute more than 100 dental health kits to infants and toddlers in Durham during July and August.  Dental educator Neelam Sullivan (Dr. Gary Hill) joined us on our visits to child care centers to teach the basics of tooth care.  Among other lessons, Neelam talked about how much toothpaste children should use, the best times to brush, and how to hold a toothbrush and use dental floss.  She shared how a healthy diet is good for building strong teeth and told the children about a “magic food” called cheese that fights cavities.  And she brought along her puppet Smiley!

By providing these young children with some of the most basic supplies necessary for proper oral health, the Partnership hopes to combat this crisis starting at an early age.

We documented the impact with this short video so you can see just what a difference even the smallest donation makes.  We hope you will watch, enjoy, and join us in celebration of this community success.  Durham has given us a great reason to smile!

Dental kit distribution has begun!

by Administrator 12. July 2013 09:40

This week was an exciting one for the Partnership team, staff members of which were tasked with delivering dental health kits to young children at Early Head Start child care centers in Durham.  Earlier this summer, Partnership volunteers constructed the 109 kits for young children (birth to age 3) that included toothbrushes, toothpaste, child flossing tools, an early dental health instruction booklet, coloring pages, crayons, and a Dr. Seuss book on teeth.  The Partnership was able to design this project through funds donated during our 2013 Great Human Race campaign, where we raised $1,050 to put toward planning, kit supplies, and implementation.  Additionally, we received many donated supplies from stakeholders in the dental health field: DenTek Oral Care, Duke Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Gary Hill, and Southpoint Pediatric Dentistry.

Because we know that early tooth loss caused by dental decay can result in failure to thrive, impaired speech development, absence from and inability to concentrate in school, and reduced self-esteem, the Partnership seeks to address the crisis of poor dental health in young children by distributing dental health kits for preventive purposes beginning with infants. 

The impact of this project was seen already this week as distribution began!

We delivered dental health kits to 32 children on Monday and 24 children on Thursday.  Additionally, we invited dental educator, Neelam Sullivan, of Dr. Gary Hill’s pediatric dental office to join us on our visits to the child care centers to talk about the basics of tooth care with more than 100 young children.  Her presentations are targeted toward our youngest learners; she engages children by using her puppet ‘Smiley’ to demonstrate proper tooth brushing and flossing techniques.

We still have a couple more dental presentations and child care center kit distributions left in the month of July, and an additional 45 children will be given kits through visits from home visitors through the Early Head Start program.  The Partnership is proud of this investment in the health of Durham’s youngest children and grateful that generous donors and volunteers were the backbone of this tremendous effort!

Dental kit building day at the Partnership

by Administrator 19. June 2013 11:53

Tuesday marked the Partnership’s first oral health kit building day at which volunteers constructed 109 kits for young children (birth to age 3) that included toothbrushes, toothpaste, child flossing tools, an early dental health instruction booklet, coloring pages, crayons, and a Dr. Seuss book on teeth.

Our volunteers worked fast and furious to collate activity and education packets, label books and bags, wrap toothpaste in washcloths (for infant gum care), and assemble and sort the kits.  They were nothing short of amazing – with both positive attitude and energy.  Thank you volunteers for your commitment!

Efforts to create the dental kits first began in early spring during our 2013 Great Human Race campaign where - through many generous donations – we raised $1,050 in funds to put toward planning, kit supplies, and implementation.  We would like to recognize those donors and our sponsors in the dental health field who contributed to the cause:  DenTek Oral Care, Duke Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Gary Hill, and Southpoint Pediatric Dentistry.

The Partnership’s mission in participating in this year's Great Human Race was to address the crisis of poor dental health in young children.  In Durham County, 17% of kindergartners have untreated tooth decay.  Preventive dental care beginning with infants is the best way to ensure proper oral hygiene is a part of a child’s daily routine and that children are receiving dental cleanings at age one.  Data from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion indicates that early tooth loss caused by dental decay can result in failure to thrive, impaired speech development, absence from and inability to concentrate in school, and reduced self-esteem.  Additional research shows that children with cavities miss more school days and have poorer school performance than children with no cavities.

By providing these young children with some of the most basic supplies necessary for proper oral health, the Partnership hopes to combat this crisis starting at an early age.

Our next step is community distribution, scheduled to take place in July.  Stay tuned for more news on the impact made in Durham!

Healthy Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments

by Administrator 7. June 2013 13:46

The Natural Learning Initiative at College of Design, NC State University is offering a one-day symposium, Healthy Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments, to early childhood professionals within the Triangle Area.

During the symposium, ideas will be shared on how to design, plan, and manage the outdoor environment for early childhood through plenary presentations, hands-on sessions, and tours of the POD-3 Lab Site, First Environments Early Learning Center.

Event details:
• Registration: Click this link to access the online registration form
• Event Date and time: June 21, 9:00am to 4:00pm
• Location: EPA Conference Center, 109 TW Alexander Drive, RTP, NC
• CEU credit will be available to all attendees upon completion of an online evaluation of the event
• Event cost is $15, which includes continental breakfast and coffee breaks
• Registration Deadline: Friday, June 14. Maximum participants: 125
• Please bring your own lunch or enjoy the Lakeside Cafe in the conference center

» Below is a Flyer with the event details. The flyer is also available by clicking this link.

We encourage professionals in Durham to take advantage of this opportunity!

Photo: The outdoor learning environment at Early Start Academy in Durham.

We reached our goal!

by Administrator 31. May 2013 09:10

Through the generous contributions of 20 donors, the Partnership raised $1,050 during the 2013 Great Human Race campaign!!!  We extend a tremendous thank you to every single donor who made this possible; this year’s campaign represents a huge success for us as it is the first time we have met our GHR fundraising goal!

The Partnership’s mission for participating this year was to address the crisis of poor dental health in young children.  Our goal is to provide 100 dental kits to young children in Durham County. Each dental kit will include a toothbrush, toothpaste, child flossing tool, an early dental health instruction booklet, coloring pages, crayons, and a Dr. Seuss book on teeth.

The Partnership would also like to recognize our sponsors in the dental health field who contributed to the cause:  DenTek Oral Care, Duke Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Gary Hill, and Southpoint Pediatric Dentistry.

Before kits can be distributed, they must first be assembled.  We are seeking volunteers to help us put together 109 kits and have scheduled an official kit building event here at the Partnership office to facilitate this effort.  If you are interested in joining us on Tuesday, June 18th at 3 pm, please contact Krissy at krissy@dpfc.net or (919) 403-6960 ext 230.  (Volunteer time commitment: < 1 hour)  

Stay tuned for more news on dental health kit distribution and the impact made in the Durham community!

The Race is almost on!

by Administrator 5. April 2013 10:36

The Great Human Race is tomorrow, April 6th, and we hope you are planning to walk or run with us!  Donations to the Partnership's Great Human Race fundraising campaign are still being accepted. We can reach our goal of $1,000!  Don't forget that for every $10 you contribute, one more child will be equipped with the tools they need for proper dental health.  Donate now to help give a kid a healthy smile and a happy life.

If you’re joining the Partnership team tomorrow, here are a few final pieces of helpful information:

  • The Volunteer Center is expecting all walkers to be at the Main Stage (at Northgate Mall near Sears Automotive) by 8:15 am for Opening Ceremonies (We will be there holding up our Partnership sign and wearing these lovely bright blue shirts)



  • If you are running, be at the Start line by 8:30 am

  • After the race, you can enjoy entertainment by The Durham Divas, Bull City Sliders Line Dancing Club, and a live DJ.  Children can meet Wool E. Bull, McGruff the Crime Dog, Booker the Fox and the Chick-fil-A cows.  Kids will also be able to explore a real Fire Engine and Sheriff's patrol car. Other activities include face painting and crafts.  


If you have any questions, please contact Krissy Dunn at krissy@dpfc.net or (919) 403-6960.  Thank you to each of our supporters and we look forward to seeing you tomorrow!  It should be a fun, rain-free event.

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