MASON COUNTY — Mason County has numerous organizations which are dedicated to working with children and their families and many members of these groups have united together to form the “Mason County Early Childhood Team.”
Since beginning earlier this year, the Early Childhood Team has established several goals to assist in the achievement of its overall mission, including linking families to available resources, raising community awareness of child development issues and developmental milestones, promoting the safety of children, ensuring that children are ready for school and enjoy learning, partnering with schools to ensure the smooth transition of children to the school setting, and training parents to serve as advocates for their children and assisting them to assume responsibility for finding and coordinating services that lead to their child’s developmental and academic success.
It was reported that research has found the early years of children’s lives are extremely important. Brain development, as well as social skills, is formed mainly during a child’s first years of life. Research also shows that quality early childhood experiences in the first five years of a child’s life can have everlasting effects. Children involved in quality early childhood experiences typically improve their language and cognitive skills, resulting in fewer placements in special education, fewer retentions in school, less juvenile crime and higher graduation rates.
The group meets monthly to discuss common goals and develop actions plans to benefit children and families in Mason County. It was also stated the group had already had several successful endeavors including the following:
- Obtained a grant from United Way in order to place “Brain Zone” materials in local elementary schools, child care centers, and Pleasant Valley Hospital. These “brain zones” have monthly messages about research on the importance of the early years and how families can benefit their young children.
- Created and are distributing a “Parenting Step by Step” guide to resources in Mason County.
- Created “The Chalkboard” website for Mason County parents. The website is an interactive site where families and organizations in the community can access information about events for children and families and can accessed at www.eccmasonwv.webs.com or the information can be found on www.facebook.com/EarlyChildhoodMasonCounty.
Current members of the group include John Machir, Bree Ramey and Michelle Bragg of Healthy Families America, Jane Haddox of Early Education Station, Greg Fowler of Mason County FRN, Sandy Lovejoy, Tara Holland, Laura Thomas and Tandi Fierbaugh of WV Birth to Three, Diane Riddle of Mason County Health Department, Wayne Bailey of Mason County Homeless Shelter, Cathryn Hanson, Brenda Withers and Tonya Bonecutter of Save the Children, John Lehew and Amy Graham of Mason County Schools, Lena Burdette of United Way, Melanie Potts of Magic Years, Beverly Pursley of Head Start, Anna Bailey of WV DHHR, Dee Messinger of Right From the Start, and Brooke Dean representing parents.
Any person or group interested in becoming a part of this group can contact John Machir, Healthy Families America, at 304-857-0020 or Jane Haddox, Early Education Station, at 304-675-4956. The group meets monthly at 9 a.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at Early Education Station.