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First 5 CA Launches Statewide “Leading Ladies for School Readiness” Campaign

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"First 5 San Bernardino understands the value in partnering with the faith community to reach parents and caregivers with critical information about the early years of a child's life,"

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Richard Jarvis
Collaboration with Leading Ladies of African American Churches in Inland Empire Aims to Prepare Children for Success in School

First 5 California announced recently it is partnering with leading ladies from African American churches to launch a statewide effort designed to educate parents and caregivers on the importance of preparing children for success in school. 

To launch the campaign called "Leading Ladies for School Readiness," First 5 California established a partnership with the California Association of Ministers' Wives and Ministers' Widows.  To date, more than 50 leading ladies - women in leadership roles at their churches - are participating in the statewide program. 

"Leading ladies play an important role within their churches and communities," said First 5 Executive Director Kris Perry.  "The leading ladies of the African American church are trusted and reliable sources for information and our ability to reach parents with important messages about school readiness will be significantly strengthened through this historic partnership."

According to First 5 California, two-thirds of children in the state's high-priority elementary schools do not have the necessary developmental skills to enter kindergarten such as sharing, taking turns or sitting still in a classroom.

As local advocates for school readiness, leading ladies will work closely with church leadership and other community leaders to educate parents and caregivers on topics including good nutrition, health care, early literacy and the benefits of preschool. 

Some of the outreach activities organized by the leading ladies will include hosting church and community forums focused on African Americans and school readiness, establishing a speakers' bureau to educate parents and generate support for school readiness efforts, and serving as local media spokespersons for the school readiness education effort.

First 5 San Bernardino and First 5 Riverside will also support the Leading Ladies for School Readiness campaign.  The Commissions and their faith-based partnerships will help identify leading ladies and encourage them to join the program.  In addition, both Commissions will host workshops for leading ladies interested in becoming advocates for school readiness.

"First 5 San Bernardino understands the value in partnering with the faith community to reach parents and caregivers with critical information about the early years of a child's life," said Richard Jarvis, Executive Director of First 5 San Bernardino. 

Stella Smith, deputy director of First 5 Riverside said, "The Leading Ladies for School Readiness will enable First 5 Riverside to tap into the credibility and influence of leading ladies of the Black church to help remind parents that they are their children's first and most important teachers."

To support the leading ladies school readiness outreach efforts, First 5 California created a comprehensive outreach tool kit, which includes a variety of ready-to-use education materials and useful tips for reaching parents and caregivers throughout their churches and surrounding communities.

 "We want parents to know that preparing their child for school starts the day he or she is born," said Henryetta Benton, president of the California Association of Ministers' Wives and Ministers' Widows.  "We are looking forward to working closely with First 5 California to help ensure children get the best possible start in life and enter school healthy and happy."

According to First 5 California, 90 percent of a child's brain develops most dramatically during the first 5 years of life.  Therefore, what a parent does during these early years to support their child's growth and encourage learning will have a meaningful impact throughout their child's life. 

Leading ladies interested in participating in the Leading Ladies for School Readiness campaign are encouraged to contact the California Association of Ministers' Wives and Ministers' Widows at info@leadingladiesforschoolreadiness.com or call (866) 305-4813.  An interdenominational organization, the association has more than 200 members throughout California and has recently added school readiness among African Americans to its many advocacy goals.   


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