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New Program Launched as "pilot" in Fulton

For Immediate Release – (April 23, 2018)

STERLING, IL –  The United Way of Whiteside County will launch a new educational program geared toward parents of young children as a pilot in Fulton in the fall of 2018.ParentsChildrenWalkingHoldingHands

Through a series of six free workshops held in local schools, this signature United Way program, called Born Learning Academy, provides families and caregivers with practical, user-friendly ideas to turn everyday activities into learning moments. The Born Learning Academy is geared toward families with children from birth to age five. It focuses on teaching parents to be their child’s first teachers by turning everyday experiences into best-practice learning opportunities designed to prepare children for kindergarten.

Fulton resident Rosemary Huisingh, who partnered with television station WQPT in the Quad Cities to bring Scratch Jr. Coding classes to Riverbend Elementary School, has entered a new partnership with United Way of Whiteside County to help bring this opportunity to Fulton and later, more of Whiteside County.

The Born Learning Academy can do more than strengthen your community’s school readiness efforts. It can also help your school partners engage families before children start kindergarten.

“We are ecstatic to kick off yet another important initiative for children in and around Fulton,” said United Way of Whiteside County CEO Diana Verhulst. This initiative will strengthen our relationship with Fulton-area children who are already benefitting from our book giveaway – called LIFE -- and our free lunch program, Verhulst said.

Founded in 2005 on an evidence-based curriculum established by early childhood faculty at Northern Kentucky University, the workshops are led by trained professionals—usually teachers, principals or other education staff— and are geared to parents, focusing on building relationships, children’s language skills, nutrition and health and how children learn. United Way strives to meet parents where they are. That’s the philosophy of the United Way Born Learning initiative, which has helped more than 15 million parents understand how to use everyday moments as learning moments. More than 600 United Ways and partner organizations have used Born Learning’s materials to help parents, families and caregivers to promote school readiness and literacy, and to enlist business leaders and decision makers in the cause.

The FREE program features classes and materials for parents and their children, dinner and childcare during the sessions, giveaways including age-appropriate books, gift cards to local stores and destinations, and hygiene/clothing items.

Each family who attends all six sessions also receives a FREE TABLET loaded with age-appropriate apps for their children. Twenty families can enroll in each academy – space is limited to ensure ease of participation. 

The data shows that children whose families attend Born Learning academies are more likely to graduate from high school and go on for additional education.

Carol Wilkens, Riverbend District 2 pre-school teacher, will be the instructor. She will work closely with the United Way staff and our community. Wilkens brings years of pre-school teaching experience to Born Learning.

The first academy is scheduled to start October 4, 2018 and conclude November 8.  A second academy is planned for February, 2019 based on interest.

If you’d like to register, volunteer, donate, or find out how to get involved with Born Learning call the United Way of Whiteside County at 815-625-7973, sign up online here or stop by the school district’s offices for a registration form.

United Way of Whiteside County