By Jenette Jurczyk
September 25, 2014
The Junior League of Champaign Urbana launched its new project, Junior League Bright Starts, on September 23rd, welcoming 19 children to the inaugural event of this important project. Working in collaboration with Urbana Early Childhood School, Junior League Bright Starts welcomed families with pre-school aged children to enjoy a complimentary dinner and an introduction to pre-school.
The pre-school programs in our community often have to waitlist children when their classes reach capacity, leaving many children at risk to miss the critical and proper introduction to a school environment prior to kindergarten. In its inaugural year, the program will provide monthly sessions to both students who are on the waitlist and their families.
For this first session, the students learned how to be good listeners when in a classroom setting. The parents were given exercises and games to engage their children at home, including a lesson on how to make homemade play-dough. One mother of two pre-school-aged children, Clara Burton, offered her impression of the program. “It was very educational for me, to learn things to do with my kids when they are home, so I don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun with them. There are many resources in the community that I did not know about that I can use to help me better my kids’ education.”
The first session hosted 19 children for the classroom portion of the evening. More than 50 people participated in total. Dinner was supplied by Minneci’s of Champaign. According to project chairperson Sara Olson, “the Junior League Bright Starts committee was so happy to see the fruits of all the planning over the last two years realized, and to hear the positive responses from the families. We’re looking forward to serving more families in future sessions!”
Here’s what participants can expect when they sign up to attend a session of Junior League Bright Starts:
After receiving a complimentary dinner, the students will attend an hour-long class taught by UECS teachers and aided by JLCU volunteers. The parents attend an info session where they receive materials and information to reinforce the learning at home. Childcare for older and younger siblings is provided, as well.
JLCU is looking forward to watching the program grow in the next few months and to see more families in the community take advantage of it. For more information on how to register, go to www.juniorleaguecu.org/brightstarts