Week of the Young Child

The Week of the Young Child is a nationwide celebration April 14 to 20, but Branford's taking things a step further.

Sponsored locally by Branford Early Childhood Collaborative (BECC), the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) is being celebrated with community literacy events that kicked off on April 8 and culminate on Saturday, April 27.

It all began last week, with the delivery of 1,250 books to kids in Branford childcare, pre-school, and K-2 elementary classrooms from April 9 to 12. Titled "One Book, One Town," the program delivered to the youngsters their own copy of the picture book Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. Portis's book is about a small rabbit with a big imagination.

WOYC also encouraged residents to visit the Toddler Classes at Branford Recreation Department (Community House) last week to view a cardboard replica of the Community House under construction and receive a complimentary book. .

WOYC activities continue this week. On Thursday, April 18, Branford WOYC will hold "Box Wars" at the Blackstone Memorial Library from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The hands-on competition, creating cardboard box sculptures, is designed to fire children's imaginations while fueling team spirit and co-operation (registration is recommended, call 203-488-1411, ext. 323).

And next week, on Saturday, April 27, some very special events on the Town Green will help culminate Branford's WOYC celebration. At 9 a.m., residents and kids will have the chance to walk with TEAM BECC in the Community Dining Room's (CDR) Walk-a-Thon, raising money with Small Hands Big Hearts for CDR programs. Register at 9 a.m. on the Green or visit www.communitydiningroom.org to register in advance.

Continuing from noon to 3 p.m. on the Town Green on April 27, participants can help build Branford Children's Box Town, a cardboard replica of the Town of Branford. Live music by Starving Artists Tackle Broadway will set the tone for a day, which also includes an official Box Town ribbon cutting. BECC will also hold a recognition ceremony of Children's Champions. At 3 p.m., the popular Art Walk begins, where strollers are encouraged to view local preschoolers' artwork on display at Branford merchants throughout the town center.

As national Week of the Young Child is celebrated across the country, Branford is honoring young children and all those who make a difference in children's lives, said BECC Executive Director Jodi Kelly.

According to a press release, BECC has more than 350 individuals and 50 organizations unified on improving early childhood outcomes of all children in Branford aged birth to 8. BECC and its partners strategically work together to develop a communitywide blueprint addressing the health, safety, socio-economic, and early childhood education needs of children. A discovery community since 2001 BECC most recently received a two-year partnership grant through the GMF, the state Department of Education, and the Children's Fund of Connecticut to support Branford in developing a comprehensive community-wide plan that addresses the health, safety, socio-economic, and early childhood education needs of all Branford children from birth through age 8.

Kelly noted it's a time for Branford to recognize that "early years are learning years for all young children.

"All young children need and deserve high-quality early learning experiences that will prepare them for life, and Branford has a great opportunity to do our part to help young children," said Kelly.

Week of the Young Child is sponsored by ERACE, Comcast, United Way, The Branford Recreation Department, Branford Rotary Club, and The Town of Branford. For more information on BECC, visit www.branfordbecc.org.

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