We continue to advocate, provide resources and educate for the benefit of the youngest children in Pennsylvania.
Partner with Early Learning Investment Commission
Kiwanis in Pennsylvania continues to work and partner with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission as a strategic partner of the Commission. Kiwanis is represented at all state-wide Commission meetings and Commission members participate in many Kiwanis sponsored presentations. Commission members have joined Kiwanis and through the Commission, Kiwanis is well recognized in Pennsylvania State Government for its work in the area of Early Childhood Education and Development. At the annual commission meeting on October 10, 2014 the work of Kiwanis was featured prominently. While I will touch on our learning guides program shortly, our association with the Commission has brought us the program and strongly leveraged the dollars we have invested in the program. Kiwanis will be addressing a planning session of the Early Learning Investment Commission on September 18, 2015 and was represented at a meeting on Early Childhood Development of World business leaders on October 1, 2015.
- Research has shown that 90% of the brain’s development occurs by age 3 and 95% by age 5.
- The basis for such things as working memory, mental flexibility and emotional self-control are largely developed by age 5.
- From ages 1 -4, the brain is particularly receptive to learning math and logic.
- The brain is most receptive at a very early age, even in the first few months of life.
- Until age 8 or the 3rd grade a child learns to read. After the 3rd grade a child reads to learn. If by 3rd grade a child isn’t reading to grade level, they will struggle to do math, science and other subjects. They will be at greater risk of dropping out of school and not being prepared for available jobs. 3rd grade reading scores can be used as a predictor of the need for prison beds in the future.
- If by age 6 a child hears 30,000,000 words, their chance of school success is greatly increased.
- Without a quality early childhood education, not only will many kids struggle in school and fail to graduate, but they will likely make bad life decisions that lead to crime, teen pregnancy, and dependence on government programs.
- Investments in quality early learning opportunities for young children yield impressive returns on investment and are more effective than remediation attempts later in life.
Pennsylvania Kiwanis Sponsored Presentations
There have been 68 Kiwanis sponsored presentations across Pennsylvania including community symposiums in Bradford, Upper Bucks County and Meadville. The Bradford and Meadville presentations were attended by over 100 community members and were the impetus of 20 or more people joining Kiwanis. The most recent was held in Lebanon on July 23rd in conjunction with the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce and had about 75 community members in attendance. And of course, we have helped organize a program in Erie on August 14, 2015 with 200 people in attendance.
Leadership with Kiwanis International
Because of our work and leadership in this area, Pennsylvania has been asked to provide leadership to the Kiwanis International World. In 2012-13, 2013-14 and again in 2014-15, I chaired the Kiwanis International Young Children Priority One Committee.
First Annual Kiwanis International Conference on Early Childhood Development Held
Additionally, the First Annual Kiwanis International Conference on Early Childhood Development, held in Louisville, Kentucky on April 15, 2013, was a Pennsylvania Kiwanis spearheaded effort as was the second conference which was in Indianapolis, Indiana on September 30, 2014 with over 150 people in attendance. Additionally, Kiwanis International is a signed supporter of the Strong Start Act, the first time Kiwanis International has signed on as a supporter of a piece of legislation.
Pennsylvania Kiwanis Members Continue to Read and Distribute Books
Kiwanis Clubs and Kiwanis members continue to read to children across Pennsylvania and distribute books. In the last 12 month period, over 800 Kiwanis members read to over 22,000 children.
Pennsylvania Kiwanis Continues Involvement in Advocacy
In the area of advocacy, over 100 Kiwanis Clubs wrote to their State Representatives and Senators during the latest State government budget debate expressing their support for the programs in the State budget that support quality early learning and development opportunities for young children. The good news here is that the Kiwanis efforts combined with the Early Learning Investment Commission and other groups and organizations across Pennsylvania helped procure funding increases for virtually all items in the state budget dealing with early development and learning.
Pennsylvania Kiwanis Club Partnering with Child Care Facilitates and Providers
Kiwanis Clubs are increasingly partnering with child care facilities and providers across the District; several clubs have “adopted” centers; some of the clubs which have been particularly proactive in this area include State College, Meadville, Nittany, Lewistown and Dillsburg.
Pennsylvania Kiwanians are asked to Support the Pre-K for PA Program
Kiwanians are, also, receiving information on and being asked to support the Pre-K for PA program, which would insure quality early education opportunities for all Pennsylvania Children. Kiwanis in Pennsylvania is a supporting organization for this campaign and recently joined the Pre-K for PA Leadership Council. Bill France, president of the Nittany club, is a co-chair of the efforts being conducted in Centre County. We held a Kiwanis for Pre-K Day at the State Capital on June 17, 2015.
Partnership with the Nurse Family Partnership Program and Other Ways of Involvement
We are also developing a partnership with the Nurse Family Partnership program, a highly effective early childhood intervention program. We are involved in efforts to advocate for their continued funding from the Federal government. District Young Children Priority One Chair Emily Reed will, also, be developing other ways our clubs and members can support the Nurse Family Partnership. The Penn Hills Kiwanis Club has provided active assistance to the Nurse Family Partnership in Allegheny County.
Distribution of Early Learning Guides
Finally but certainly not least, we continue to be involved in the distribution of the early learning guides, “Everyday I Learn Through Play” (birth to age 2), “Learning is Everywhere” (for toddlers) and “Kindergarten Here I Come” (for preschoolers). With the generous support of the Pennsylvania Kiwanis Foundation, Kiwanis Clubs and Kiwanians, we have funded and distributed over 293,900 of the guides to Pennsylvania families. That means we have reached over 290,000 households across Pennsylvania with these important learning resources (that have the Kiwanis logos) at no cost to those families. We have reached into 58 of Pennsylvania’s 67 Counties with these guides. The Counties we have not yet reached are: Lawrence, Beaver, Washington, Greene, Cameron, Potter, Bedford, Fulton, and Pike.
It is worth noting that these guides have also been instrumental in helping to attract several people as members in the new club we have organized in East Norriton.
Call to Action!
Key Club recently adopted the program as their Youth Serving Youth project.
While we have enjoyed success with the guides and made a real impact, that program and our other efforts with early learning cannot continue without the financial support of Kiwanis Clubs and Kiwanians. We hope you and your club will consider making a pledge or donation.
I am pleased to provide you this update. Five and one-half years ago, we were doing little in this area. Now we are helping to lead a movement. We should all feel proud of the difference we are making!