WESTVILLE | Purdue University North Central students in the Child, Family, School & Community Partnerships class will host two "Countdown to A Healthy Start" events at Woodland Park in Portage on April 9 from 10 a.m. to noon and April 16 from 5 to 7 p.m.
There will be a third "Countdown to A Healthy Start" event on the PNC campus on April 20 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. as part of the Family Fun Time activities that will follow the annual Early Childhood Conference.
This class gives students the opportunity to step out of the classroom and into a professional setting as the Early Childhood Education majors are paired with area not-for-profit agencies working with young children, parents and educators.
PNC students Katie Osborn and Kristine Jones are completing their service-learning project with Laura Weaver, PNC Service Learning coordinator, and are coordinating the "Countdown to A Healthy Start" events. Victoria DeMan, a student who completed the course in 2012, is the Early Childhood Service-Learning Mentor.
The event theme is "Ahoy Mateys! Setting Sail for Kindergarten" and will feature a variety of interactive learning activities for children and their parents, teachers and child care providers.
The Early Childhood Education majors have also formed a unique partnership with PNC Nursing majors in the Family Health Nursing class. The Nursing students have become professional resources and are sharing information about children's' health and hygiene issues that the Early Childhood Education majors are incorporating into their activities.
Youngsters attending the "Countdown to A Healthy Start" events will enjoy a free family-friendly treasure hunt featuring six learning stations to be explored with their adult escort. Activities focus on strategies to help children and their families prepare for school - bedtime routines; bus safety; family time; mealtime conversations and nutrition; physical activity; and getting ready for school. Each child will receive a free backpack to fill with "loot" collected at each activity station.
At Woodland Park, Porter County Parents as Teachers will host a Picnic Station with healthy snacks and Portage Township Schools will have a school bus for children to "practice" bus safety. The Lions Club will offer vision screening, NorthShore Health Centers will provide immunization information and United Way Success by 6 will be on hand with information about its programming.
The Woodland Park events are held in partnership with the Portage Parks Department and Porter County Parents as Teachers.
"Countdown to A Healthy Start" project is funded by grants from Indiana Campus Compact, including a Community Service Mini-Grant for students Victoria DeMan, Kristine Jones and Katie Osborn.
On April 20, "Countdown to A Healthy Start" will be part of the Family Fun Time activities that will follow the annual Early Childhood Conference. Activities will be in the Library-Student-Faculty Building on the PNC campus and there will be a $3 admission fee.
Doors open at 3 p.m. Families can make their way through the "Countdown to A Healthy Start" activities before enjoying the interactive show of "That Tall Juggler Guy" Mike Vondruska. From 3:30 to about 4:30 p.m. Vondruska will entertain the family with his juggling and unicycling skills. The audience plays a key role in this high-energy show.
The learning activities at each of the "Countdown to A Healthy Start" activities will include:
"Fishin' for a Treasure" by students Katie Osborn, Bri Majewski and Lindsay Smith. Youngsters will interact in a fun educational game that teaches them to follow directions. They will take home a mini version of the game with directions so they can carry the game wherever they'd like and teach others how to play.
"Bedtime" by students Leah Fenner, Sara Wenger and Angela Hammond. Creating a nightly routine to help children transition to bedtime and get the proper amount of sleep is vital to a youngster's health and success in school. Children will pretend to brush teeth, put on pajamas, lay down and read a pirate book. Parents will get notecards with bedtime conversation ideas. Children will take home a toothbrush, children's book and conversation notecards.
"Don't be a stowaway, be a first mate" by students Ellen Falk, Raney Chancellor and Rachel Bechner. Children will learn school bus safety and manners. Before the children get on the bus they will be handed a flag to color. After coloring, they will get on the bus and wait their turn to find a seat. The bus rules will be explained and they will pretend to go on a bus ride. Children will take home their flag and a magnet.
"Sail through the Hula Hoops" by students Charissa Leach, Kaitlyn Jarrard and Lauren Mathis. Youngsters and parents will learn the proper amount of time children need to be active. There will be different stations for the children to go through an obstacle course where they will run, hop and toss a Frisbee through hula hoops. Youngsters will take home their own hula hoop.
"Little Pirate School" by students Lanna Barker, Paulette Mares and Kristine Jones. Children get ready for kindergarten with activities that include: learning to follow rules as they make necklaces/bracelets out of kid friendly food; using cookie cutters and rollers to create play dough spot shapes and numbers; writing letters and words found in a treasure chest onto a white board. Each child will take home a necklace, a homemade play dough recipe and a coloring box with scissors, glue, crayons and pencil.
"Family Meal Time" by students Kelly Salyer, Laura Flerick, Amanda Singleton and Trenia Davis. Children and families will have creative dinner conversations thanks to the note cards they'll receive bearing topics and ideas. Blank note cards will be passed out so families can create their own ideas. Children will use play food to select which foods are healthy and which are not and take home a paper place mat to color with the healthy foods they want to eat.