EASLEY — Pickens County First Steps joined with other area advocacy groups and non-profits to celebrate “Week of the Young Child” — starting off with an afternoon of fun and activities at the J.B. “Red” Owens Sports Complex in Easley on Thursday.
“We’ve done this for the past several years, but this is the first time we’ve really ‘gone all out’,” said Marian Vischer, communications director for Pickens County First Steps. “The library came out and they’ve set up these great sensory stations, the Easley Police and Fire departments came out and of course, did you see the petting zoo? The kids love it.”
Sam’s Path Petting Zoo out of Hartwell, Ga., had a wide variety of critters for the kids to “ooh” and “ahh” at including bunnies, a monkey, a baby camel, a tortoise and a particularly adorable and fuzzy baby llama.
“We do this sort of thing all the time,” said Jeff Gray, owner. “It’s always a good time to get the animals out and see kids’ reactions.”
The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world’s largest early childhood education association, with nearly 60,000 members and a network of 50 local, state and regional Affiliates.
According to NAEYC officials, the purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.
NAEYC first established the Week of the Young Child in 1971, recognizing that the early childhood years (birth through age 8) lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life.
The Week of the Young Child is a time to plan how residents of a community, of a state, and of a nation will better meet the needs of all young children and their families, they said.
Although NAEYC designates the Week of the Young Child dates and theme, events are planned and implemented by local communities. Celebrations are organized and coordinated by regional, state, and local NAEYC Affiliates, and by individual early childhood programs and community organizations providing services to young children and families — like Pickens County First Steps.
Additionally, Ahead Start pitched in by facilitating the Born Learning Trail and sensory stations, Pickens County Library System joined the fun with their Messy Munchkins Sensory Stations and Ruthie Chapman from West End Elementary School’s “Read With Me Mondays” program was on hand.
“We’re just so pleased with the turnout,” said Vischer. “This has been a great week.”
“The Week of the Young Child is a time to recognize that children’s opportunities are our responsibilities and to recommit ourselves to ensuring that each and every child experiences the type of early environment—at home, at child care, at school, and in the community—that will promote their early learning,” said a NAEYC spokesperson.