Hello everyone, Jon here. Jaclyn is going to take over this blog post in a second to update everyone on the status of the Care and Play with Me program. The program is starting soon and she is still looking for volunteers so we are reaching out to the RU community to help fill the spots. The program is only two days a week. Please let us know if you are interested in volunteering for this wonderful program and we will get you in touch with Jaclyn.
While searching for a site to house our program, there are a lot of things to consider. We want an environment that everyone can feel comfortable and welcomed in. Truly, just one site alone may not offer enough diversity of location or space to accommodate everyone’s individual expectations. We want a space that feels safe, inviting, and engaging; a space that can adapt to change and grow with the program.
I’ve done a lot of research into the concept of a space or classroom like environment going beyond physical attractiveness to something that can become a sacred space for a child. They need to know they will be safe, take care of, respected, happy, and have fun. We also want to engage our caregivers in our environment; we want our Caregivers to feel a connection to our site as well.
We have toured a lot of spaces and discussed options with many organizations around town for rooms or spaces to meet our needs. The Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA has narrowed the selection down to 2 possible sites. One site would be for the Monday/Wednesday group and the other site would be for the Tuesday/Thursday group. Both sites are in the down town area and are within walking distance to many homes and buildings. Both sites are also located inside churches of different Christian denominations. We feel that both sites are warm, inviting, and safe places that go beyond being just a room with early learning items inside. Both sites will transform into a home-like environment allowing our Caregivers and their children to open up and engage with the space and activities.
Our hope is to connect with the congregations of the churches and increase their connection to the community through our program. Many places have a desire to serve and connect with the community but simply no program or man power to do so. We hopefully will be providing the means and programming for these churches to expand their community connections.
After firmly deciding upon our sites we need to set our focus on finding dedicated volunteers for our program. The program is going to be directly run by the facilitator, me (Jaclyn Sharp). Then 2-3 volunteers per session will be helping me engage and interact with the children and caregivers as well as help with the set up and clean up process. We will need volunteers to commit to at least 2 sessions a week from 8-12 (either the Monday/Wednesday sessions or the Tuesday/Thursday sessions) and then be open to meeting with me at some point (most likely during Friday mornings) to discuss program planning, ideas, and feedback. Ideally we would like the volunteers to continue on with us throughout the entire program, which runs until the end of June but if someone wanted to volunteers for a few months at a time we would definitely discuss that option.
We’re looking for people who value our local Friend, Family, and Neighbor Caregivers and their impact within this society. People who want to support these Caregivers and partner with them to bring about a united front in good child care practices and kindergarten readiness. We want to help the children through supporting the Caregivers that are caring for them and impacting their lives on a daily basis. We want to work with these Caregivers to help the children become as ready as possible for kindergarten.
Starting up a new program like this can be a long journey, but it has been an enriching and valuable journey to undertake. I’ve learned a lot and grown within the community. I want to serve this community and truly help bring about a change for the better. These Caregivers are doing great work with their children and I want to acknowledge this and help them continue to flourish and grow. As with every process for change, you have to start by putting one foot in front of the other. I cannot help anyone if I don’t have the program set up in a successful manner. So we’ve found our sites, and now we need volunteers. We want people in the community, our Caregivers to know about our program, to come to our program. We need our name out there. One foot in front of the other, and step by step this long journey will continue onwards for a brighter tomorrow.
Thank you for reading the Care and Play with Me postings! If you have any further questions or comments about the program please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org