The needs of Lincoln Countyâ€™s youngest residents were celebrated this week as several local child care facilities observed the Week of the Young Child, which lasts from April 2-8.
The week was established to increase community awareness to foster better opportunities for all children, especially in the young stages of development.
â€œIt helps the parents and teachers take time out to really focus on the special needs of children, to realize that their early years are their most important years,â€ said Linda Spencer, LCS preschool director.
Parents, children and teachers participated in several activities throughout the week to bring special attention to the need of nurturing youth.
Lincoln County School preschool classes enjoyed story time read by school sponsors. The children also made a bulletin boards in school media centers to bring attention to the cause.
Perhaps the biggest attention-getter, however, was this weekâ€™s spirit days. Each day, the children dressed up in different themed attire, such as teddy bear, pajama, crazy hair, hat and mix-match days to get their older classmates and teachers to start asking questions.
â€œWe thought if we did something different and got the parent involved then the whole school would see weâ€™re recognizing it,â€ said Kim Davis, preschool teacher at North Brook Elementary.
The child care center at First Baptist Church used the week to spread awareness about child safety. The church, along with the local chapter of the North Carolina SAFE Kids Coalition, held a car seat check for the community in its parking lot Tuesday.
â€œWeâ€™re just trying to get activities together for the children and family,â€ said Krista Rooks, assistant director at First Baptist. â€œSometimes (parents) donâ€™t have time to get involved and this week gives them time.â€
Since January 2005, state law mandates that all children under 80 pounds or younger than 8 years old must be in a child restraint or booster seat.
During the check, inspectors instruct parents how to properly install their seat, buckle and harness. The seat must not move 1 inch from side to side. Before finishing the check, parents must show they can install the seat correctly.
Improper installation is common, said Lincolnton firefighter and SAFE Kids member Bill Fortenberry, who has worked many car seat checks.
â€œAt the end of the day I would venture to say if we find 10 percent that are right, it would be the first time,â€ he said.
It comes down to a very difficult process, said Fortenberry.
â€œIn a majority of these seats the owners manuals that come with them are hard to understand,â€ he said.
Soon-to-be grandparent Janice Watson came to check because her daughter, Angela Garner, wanted her momâ€™s car to be safe when her son comes.
â€œOur daughter is expecting a baby in two weeks and she is very, very protective already even though this is her first child,â€ said Watson. â€œShe wanted us to do this because we are going to be keeping the baby a lotâ€¦we just wanted to be on the safe side.â€
Seats were also available for purchase, and can still be purchased through SAFE Kids for $30. With proof of Medicaid enrollment, the price is reduced to $15.
â€œOur whole motto in car seat checks is that the child leaves safer than they arrive,â€ said Fortenberry.
Besides the activities, the week was recognized by a proclamation by the County Commissioners, announcements on the radio, posters in schools and area businesses as well as brochures about the preschool program, a window display at Byrd Sundries in Lincolnton and a presentation will be made to the school board at their April 12 meeting.
by Mary Williams