— This August, the Good Beginning Fairs celebrate their eighth year as part of the late Summit County Executive Russ Pry’s Summit Kids Month. The fairs, also part of the Summit County First Things First initiative, support one of First Things First’s most significant guiding principles: early learning begins at birth.
“The Good Beginnings Fairs are great examples of how community programs, local businesses and government agencies can all come together to build awareness about early learning and literacy,” said Jamie Kutner, First Things First coordinator. “By providing helpful tools and resources directly to parents with young children, the community as a whole can have an impact on preparing children for success in school and in life.”
The fairs have expanded this year to include Nordonia Hills City Schools as one of the three locations. Says Laura DiCola, Summit Education Initiative (SEI)’s early childhood strategy leader: “Dr. Joe Clark, superintendent of Nordonia Hills School District, is committed to finding creative ways to share resources with families so that all children enter kindergarten ready for success.”
She added, “Over the past few years, the fairs have tended to focus on greater Akron and communities south of Akron. Not only is this new location ideally situated to reach families in many communities from northern Summit County, but it also supports the school district’s efforts to communicate with families as early as possible about the importance of the early years.”
This year, the fairs’ theme is “Building Their Story.” Each fair will feature enriching activities for parents and children to enjoy together. Community organizations will share ideas for parents to support brain-building moments focused on literacy and social emotional skills at home. The fairs’ planning committee chose to focus on these skills because of the impact they have on children’s learning experiences throughout life.
“In the library, we always use Emilie Buchwald’s quote, ‘Children are made readers on the lap of their parents,’” said Laura McFalls, early childhood specialist at Akron-Summit County Public Library. “Early childhood education is about building a sturdy foundation necessary to transition into school, but it’s not just about getting ready for kindergarten. The experiences we provide children during the early years promote skills necessary for lifelong learning success.”
Therapy dogs from Sit Means Sit will attend so children may practice reading aloud to them. Pizza will arrive around 11:30 a.m. at each fair, which will also feature a raffle drawing for door prizes.
The fairs’ planning committee, which includes representatives from SEI and several community partners, have scheduled fairs on the following dates: Aug. 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ledgeview Elementary School in Macedonia (Nordonia’s fair); Aug. 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Akron-Summit County Public Library’s Main Library in downtown Akron; and Aug. 9, from 9 a.m. to noon at Springfield High School in Akron (Springfield’s fair). For more information about the fairs, visit http://seisummit.org/events/.
First Things First is a coalition of many Summit County agencies and service providers working together to improve services for children. The mission of First Things First is to address system gaps and identify improvements needed to ensure young children have the greatest opportunity for positive physical and mental health, early learning and developmental outcomes, and to ensure families have access to support.
Summit Education Initiative (SEI) is a nonprofit organization working to enhance the educational experiences of individuals and their families living in Summit County. SEI believes this helps ensure every student graduates prepared, passionate and persistent. The mission of SEI is to improve personal and regional prosperity through increased educational attainment.