Care and Play with Me has officially been open for a whole week now! We had an exciting week of meeting new people and discovering new things!
It’s always intimidating to walk into an unfamiliar environment, maybe even in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and join in like you’ve always been there. I understand how hard it can be to try out a new program, one that’s not just new to you but to the whole community. But we threw open our doors and put out our interest centers and hoped that everyone who stopped in would feel that they belonged, that they were a welcomed part of our program.
This program is best advertised through word-of-mouth and in past years at other YMCA’s around the U.S.A. it’s been shown that the best way to reach out to Caregivers is in person, not simply by putting up flyers and assuming they’ll come. We’ve done a lot of community outreach events, we were at Big Truck Night with Dubuque Parents as Teachers and most recently we were at the Library during Children’s Story Time. A lot of programs like our have not always had great success reaching out to Caregivers by week 1 of the program so I opened our program on day 1 with an understanding that I might not be expecting anyone at all but still hoping for people to have heard about us. I was so thrilled that a Grandma with her grand daughter came into our program on day 1!
We did our opening Circle Time, we sang songs, danced, and listened to music while playing in the interest centers. And at the end of the program time we wrapped up with our closing Circle Time. Already the little girl had gained a sense of the routine of the program and the next day she was ready for “school” with a backpack and a big smile for us!
By the end of the week we had gained a mom and her daughter who, due to scheduling conflicts, found this program so appealing not only because it was quality programming for free but also because it allowed them to experience an early learning environment on their terms, fitting in with their schedule.
We hope to continue to grow and are excited for each new week and every new face! We still need a volunteer for our Tuesday/Thursday class at St. Paul’s. Any caregivers and their children are welcome to come join us! Care and Play with Me runs Mondays and Wednesdays, 9am-11am at Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ (1795 Jackson St.) and Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9am-11am at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church (2025 Jackson St.) For more information or to RSVP call the Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA 563-556-3371 and ask for Jaclyn Sharp or Vicki Gassman.