ATLANTA, June 20, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The YMCA of Metro Atlanta is pleased to announce it will be a Co-Host and presenter at the National Head Start Association's 2017 Early Learning Innovation Summit, which takes place June 26 through 28 in Salt Lake City. The focus of the Innovation Summit is to provide an opportunity for entrepreneurial practitioners across the early childhood spectrum to come together to learn from their peers and share ideas. The Y, the largest Head Start partner in metro Atlanta, was invited to be a Co-Host and present because of its reputation for innovative programming including Start for Life, Read Right from the Start and its newest focus of infusing STEAM into the early learning curriculum.
According to the National Head Start Association, Head Start programs have had to make innovative adaptations based on local needs and resources, and many of those innovators and their innovations deserve national attention for their ingenuity and potential, yet most have remained unrecognized – in the Head Start community or outside in the larger early childhood community. Almost every one of the important innovations has not been scaled because of insufficient tools, resources, and entrepreneurial skills. Yet, at a time of great public interest in high quality early childhood education, Head Start's "bright spots" have much to teach the nation.
"This is only the second Innovation Summit held by the National Head Start Association so we are truly honored to be invited to present this year," said Youlanda Upkins, vice president of early learning for the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. "We hope that by sharing our impactful programs others will be inspired and can take the ideas back to their communities to benefit the kids they serve."
The YMCA of Metro Atlanta seeks to Empower Healthy Living and Ensure School Readiness for all of the people it serves, especially children. To do this, the Y continuously seeks to improve upon and expand its offerings to the Atlanta community. One of the areas of opportunity is the development and enhancement of STEAM-focused early learning as a significant opportunity to impact the community. With a recent $4 million grant the Y has received, it will be able to pilot a program to incorporate science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM) into its early learning classrooms.
Recent studies show that exposing young children to STEAM has a significant impact on a child's entire spectrum of learning. From their earliest years, children interact with their peers and the world in ways that mimic best practices in STEAM education – through questioning, investigating, building, playing and more. However, if these skills are not encouraged and fostered, much of this natural disposition toward STEAM learning can fade. Unfortunately, many early learning programs are currently ill-equipped and lack the necessary training to focus on STEAM learning.
As one of the largest providers of early learning in Atlanta, the Y has an opportunity to change this model. With the grant, the Y will work to infuse STEAM into its early learning network through Head Start, traditional fee-for-service and partner programs changing the educational experience for more than 3,400 children, ages six weeks to 5 years.
Read Right from the Start, the Y's partnership program with Rollins Center for Language & Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School, brings the nation's leading research in language and literacy for Birth to Pre-K to practice at all of the Y's early learning centers. Read Right from the Start supports the Y's efforts to Ensure School Readiness so that preschool children enter kindergarten on a path to read to learn by the third grade and develop healthy habits.
To Empower Healthy Living for young children, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta designed and implemented a program called Start for Life, a research-to-practice program that is meant to improve the health of young children by promoting an appreciation for a healthy, physically active lifestyle into adulthood. The program is for children aged 3 to 5 and consists of a series of 24 lesson plans. It is administered by early learning teachers during the school day in 30 minute sessions five days a week, and provides fun activities to help build strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. In addition, a series of self-management and skill-building exercises are used to reinforce healthy behaviors over time.
To learn more about the YMCA of Metro Atlanta and all of the programs it offers, visit ymcaatlanta.org.
About YMCA of Metro Atlanta
The Y is a powerful association of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurture the potential of kids, promote healthy living and foster a sense of social responsibility. Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and connect. To learn more, visit ymcaatlanta.org or call 404-588-YMCA (9622).
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SOURCE YMCA of Metro Atlanta