month of the young child

Month of the Young Child is all about support for Pittsburgh kids and caregivers

Kid-focused celebrations throughout April – the Month of the Young Child – range from a motivational dinner in a museum to a cookout in Homewood, and even a visit to the state capital. All will recognize the importance of little kids and their caregivers at home and within the community.

The fun part for kids is the end-of-month Homewood Block Party on April 28 at the Homewood Early Learning Hub operated by Trying Together. The “Hub” provides programming to families and early learners.

The Block Party’s free day of fun will include a cookout, performances and helpful information related to young children. Key stakeholders that offer no-cost, accessible resources to Homewood families will be on hand, says Rachelle Duffy, director of learning and development.

“We’ve invited anybody that really is trying to make a positive impact in Homewood,” Duffy says.

The event will help parents make connections with organizations and their services.

The Block Party is just one of many activities commemorating the Month of the Young Child.

“It’s about having the opportunity to slow down and draw more attention to the needs and rights of young children and those who care for them,” says Cara Ciminillo, executive director of Trying Together, formerly Pittsburgh Association for The Education of Young Children (PAEYC).

“It’s really celebrating that developmental stage,” she says, which is a time when children — up through third grade — develop into who they are. “If we can give them a strong foundation, then hopefully they will become strong adults.”

The Month of the Young Child is an offshoot of the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Week of the Young Child. Nearly a decade ago, Trying Together extended the week to a month after they found that Pittsburgh organizations wanted to do more than a week could handle.

“That’s just Pittsburgh,” she says.

Since then, the month-long celebration has taken off statewide.

Trying Together will host its annual Celebration Dinner at the Carnegie Museum of Art on April 10 for early care and education professionals. Bill Strickland of Manchester Bidwell Corporation will be the keynote speaker for the sold-out evening. The late child advocate Patricia Cobbs will be posthumously honored with the Pennsylvania Association for The Education of Young Children (PennAEYC)  2018 VOICE for Children Award.

The idea behind the event is to give an uplifting message of gratitude to those who care for our small children.

“Those in the early childhood field are often underpaid and undervalued,” Ciminillo says. “We want them to know: They’re recognized. They’re valued. They’re seen.”

A Student Affiliate Dinner is planned for higher education students on April 12 at Pitt’s Greensburg campus.

On April 18, Trying Together staff and advocates will travel to the state capital in Harrisburg to bring attention to the unmet needs of young children statewide. Paper blocks decorated with photos, drawings, stories or stickers will be stacked in the rotunda to give a visual representation of the impact early childhood programming has on Pennsylvania families.

“We want to ensure that our legislators are keeping them in mind,” Ciminillo says.

Although it’s just one month of activities, Duffy hopes the events remind people of the important programs going on for little kids and their caregivers year-round.

“They’re our future,” Ciminillo says.