By: Vanessa Armstrong/
I’m sure by now most of you have had a chance to see either Sarah or myself out and about at different events throughout the year, but events aren’t all we do. Lately we’ve been talking a lot about how to get more parents involved in our vision of making sure every child in Lenawee County is Healthy, Happy and Ready to Succeed when they start school.
So what is the Lenawee Great Start Collaborative actually? We are a group of local parents, service providers, business professionals, and leaders in the community who work together to build, implement, and continuously improve the supports and services for young children and their families right here in our community.
Governor Snyder set his expectations in four outcomes to guide state, local, and private efforts affecting the health and well-being of children from the prenatal period through age 8.
• Children are born healthy.
• Children are healthy, thriving, and developmentally on track from birth to third grade.
• Children are developmentally ready to succeed in schools at time of school entry.
• Children are prepared to succeed in fourth grade and beyond by reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
Our job is to find ways to help families navigate through all of these outcomes, help them with the resources and support they need to accomplish these goals.
How do we do that? With your help of course! We have programs in place that really help guide our efforts, but we’re always looking for new and exciting ways to engage our families.
Here are just a few of the things we do and could always use volunteers!
• Lenawee Great Start Events, we’d love to have parents that are passionate about our vision out helping us spread the word.
• Mom 2 Mom Mentor Program for Teen Mothers, we rely on other moms in the community to come out with us to support and offer mentor-ship to these young ladies.
• Lenawee Great Start Collaborative Board Meetings: We need to hear from parents! Come to our board meetings, let us know what is working and what isn’t working in our community. Give us your ideas on how we could improve our programs and reach more families to make our vision a reality.
- Great Start Diaper Drive– It will kick off in May, every little bit helps! Host a diaper drive at your office, school, even Social Media! Every little bit helps.
• Action Teams: We have been focusing on several action teams this year.
- Business Engagement – Increase parent leadership skills by engaging them with community services and agencies at local businesses for lunch, to help increase knowledge of our mission and to understand the importance of early childhood.
2. Kindergarten Transition – Transitioning from staying home or even preschool to Kindergarten can be a big change not only for your child but for you as a parent. This action team will be focusing on how we can make the process of transitioning into Kindergarten more consistent across the county and make the process smoother for parents, children and educators.
3. Reading Across Lenawee – This action team will be working to create a network of volunteers to go to different locations around Lenawee to meet parents where they are in the community to read to children while they wait.
• Our Free Book Baskets, we are on track to put 12,000 books into Lenawee County this year and as you can imagine, sorting through that many books to make sure they’re in good condition as well as age appropriate can be very time consuming, so we’re always looking for extra hands. In addition to sorting the books, we also add stickers with helpful information for families. Don’t have time to sort books, consider donating your gently used children’s books to Goodwill. They provide the books that we use in our baskets.
Now you’re excited, right? And you want to know how you can help? Awesome! That’s what we were hoping you’d say! First, let me give you a few options:
Level One: Stay in contact with the group by email and website participation
Level Two: Go to meetings regularly and volunteer at Parent Network events/activities when your schedule permits. Attend Great Start events when my schedule permits.
Level Three: Become a parent representative on the Great Start Collaborative and participate in our Action Teams.
If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 517-266-4821.
Vanessa Armstrong is one of our Parent Liaison for Lenawee Great Start. Before joining Lenawee Great Start, Vanessa worked as a photographer and served in the United States Air Force of 10 years. She is a Florida native who has been living in Tecumseh with her husband Sean and their 3 children, Keira, Cooper and Harper since 2010.by