Smart Beginnings is a public/private collaborative, housed at the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area, which works to make our community a place where children grow up healthy and arrive at school prepared to succeed. Jessie Ray, our Smart Beginnings director, also works very closely with the United Way School Readiness Impact Team to advance early education opportunities for vulnerable families.
Smart Beginnings and the Pinwheel Collaborative got together this year to offer a fun way to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month and celebrate the Week of the Young Child. Jessie worked with the Collaborative to organize a “Pinwheel Parade” and concert for area preschoolers and their families in the month of April. All the City of Charlottesville public preschool 3 and 4 year olds were in attendance, as were five Albemarle County Bright Stars classes and a few local private preschools. Everyone made their way through the historic downtown mall holding pinwheels, the symbol of child abuse prevention, and marching to the beat of African drums; drawing the attention of downtown mall workers who ventured out of their stores and offices to get a look, plus a few families who joined us along the way!
Our United Way sponsored the event and the performers. Cathy Bollinger, Elly Tucker, and Paul Brier entertained the children with fun and educational songs down at the NTelos Wireless Pavilion for about 40 minutes before the classes returned to their schools. The Pavilion generously donated the use of their space for the event.
Overall, we had close to 350 local preschoolers holding pinwheels, singing, and dancing, making this a fun event for the community. Many thanks to the dozens of volunteers from local nonprofits and schools who came out to help, and to Kevin Monroe and Bob Garrity for their wonderful drumming! This was the first time in many years that the City and County preschoolers have been able to come together for such a fun performance. NBC29 did a great story of the event you can read about here.
Children are our greatest resource, and we were delighted to have the opportunity to bring together so many local preschool children, their teachers and parents, for a celebration of early childhood and our goals of healthy kids who are well prepared for entering kindergarten.
Posted by: Jessie Ray, Smart Beginnings director
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