A Publication of WTVP

Warm weather is here, school is out and that means parents and local children will be looking for activities to keep them busy throughout the next few months. Summer youth programs are a key component of early childhood development, offering youth the opportunity to have experiences that enhance and complement their studies in school.

With a variety of structured activities offered by United Way agencies, summer programs are easily accessible in many neighborhoods, allowing children to experience field trips, day camps, outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, technology and even community service. In addition, these programs highlight how many local agencies collaborate to share resources such as transportation, facilities, health education and much more.

As summer ends, one of the most exciting days for a young child is his or her first day of school. To help children ages 3 to 5 get ready for this big day, the Heart of Illinois United Way’s “Success by 6” initiative created the Getting Ready for School 15- month calendar, available free of charge to parents, grandparents and caregivers in Marshall, Peoria, Putnam, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford Counties.

Beginning this month, the calendar contains a variety of ideas that turn ordinary daily activities such as laundry, meals, bedtime, riding in the car, trips to the market and visits to the library and playground into eye-opening experiences which help children learn about colors, numbers and the alphabet.

Participating in summer youth programs is often just a first step. Throughout the year, the health and human service industry offers a variety of youth services that focus on prevention, intervention and education. With year-round opportunities for education, social skills, mentoring and career exploration, our youth are well on their way to a successful future.

As part of the “Success by 6” early childhood initiative, the Heart of Illinois United Way focuses on supporting quality, early childhood education that is dedicated to ensuring that all children, from birth to age 6, are healthy, safe, nurtured and ready to succeed. For youth of any age to become successful adults, they need a sense of safety, belonging, purpose and self-worth. The youth programs funded by the United Way focus on building these competencies and ensure that youth who are in preschool, after-school and arts programs are developing strong educational aspirations.

For more information about “Success by 6,” the Getting Ready for School calendar or any of the summer programs funded by the Heart of Illinois United Way, we encourage parents, caregivers and grandparents to visit or call the Heart of Illinois United Way at 674-5181. IBI