A fun-filled morning of activities and entertainment were on tap for children and their families on Aug. 24 during a special event at Hartford's Bushnell Park. Called the "Making Early Learning Come Alive! Block Party," the festivities were but one of a number of United Way volunteer projects happening in Connecticut communities during the 2013 United Way Year of Caring series.
At the event, the United Way mobilized more than 20 Pratt & Whitney volunteers and several Jefferson Radiology volunteers to organize a variety of crafts and games that reinforce how learning "comes alive" in a playful and meaningful way.
While Pratt & Whitney Lead Technician Rhonda Leonard manned the volunteer registration table, other Pratt & Whitney employees and relatives offered their help at booths that included face painting, hula hooping and color-mixing experiments. Other tents held activities themed around Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards in physical health and development, social and emotional development, social studies, literacy, cognitive and general knowledge, mathematics, creative arts, science, language development and approaches to learning. Resource materials for parents were abundant, with organizations such as the Capitol Region Education Council, EASTCONN and Birth to Three on hand, to name a few.
During the block party, which ran from 9-11:30 a.m., families were also treated to juggling and stilt walking demonstrations, were able to handle live animals at the Curious Creatures booth, read books to dogs at the Tails of Joy booth, made musical instruments, played with Legos and other sensory activities and received free carousel rides.
The event was co-hosted by American Medical Response; the Children's LAW Center of Connecticut; the City of Hartford Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation; the Connecticut State Department of Education - the Governor's Early Childhood Education Cabinet; the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving - Kaplan Early Learning Company; the United Way of Connecticut; the Metropolitan District; the Office of Early Childhood; and the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund. Additional support came from many community providers and organizations throughout the state, including volunteer assistance from Pratt & Whitney.