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United Way of Whitley County's Kindergarten Countdown gives little ones a super start for school success

From reports

Late last July, 33 students went to school for the first time -- participating in circle time, story time and small group activities. They ate lunch, went to recess and learned what it was like to go to school two weeks before their peers. They made friends, met teachers and began building their foundation for learning.

Through this unique program, Kindergarten Countdown, students have an opportunity to become comfortable with school, the expectations and the environment before their real first day of class begins.

On the final day of the program, parents and family were invited to see the progress the children had made over their two weeks with Kindergarten Countdown. Before leaving, each child also received a backpack for school filled with the supplies they would need for kindergarten, as well as four new early reading books, including "The Night Before Kindergarten" by Natasha Wing.

For the first year, the program was piloted in Whitley County Consolidated Schools. Funded by the United Way of Whitley County, Kindergarten Countdown has the potential to grow and expand to help more children each year as they begin a lifetime of learning. With the philanthropic efforts of a group of enthusiastic local women, funds to support this year's Kindergarten Countdown will be raised at a first-time event, Power of the Purse, on Thursday, May 18, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Eagle Glen Event Center. The event will feature designer purse raffles, dinner and camaraderie.

"Many of our Power of the Purse committee members are mothers and they know the value of giving children a solid start when it comes to education," said Cindy Baker, executive director of the United Way of Whitley County. "That is why they are so passionate about making sure every child in our community, regardless of economic challenges, has an opporunity start school with the resources and preparation they need to be successful."

Baker has received a lot of feedback from parents about how last year's Kindergarten Countdown helped their children.

"It was a great experience and very helpful for our child that never went to preschool or a babysitter. We were worried about him starting school, and he had never been in that type of environment. Thank you so much for helping our nerves as parents for a successful couple weeks from your program relating to a successful start of kindergarten," one parent shared.

Another parent said, "It helped ease my child into kindergarten making it easier for her to handle all the distractions and stress that come with so many new things in a new environment."

The Kindergarten Countdown teachers also saw results in positive behavioral changes that took place for students as they participated in the two-week long program. Now, having been inside a classroom and having become familiar with being at school all day, these students will be able to make the difficult and sometimes scary transition into Kindergarten, allowing them to be more prepared to learn on their first day of school.

The Power of the Purse is sponsored by Parkview Whitley Hospital and Scientific and Regulatory Consultants (SRC). The event is also made possible with contributions from Professional Federal Credit Union, Edward Jones Investments - Melinda Woll, Daniel Menu and Party Consulting,  Brook & Co. Salon, Downtown Business Alliance, Dewitt Marketing, Tiffany Jones - Stylist at House of Style, Opal& Ruby Emporium, Star Financial Bank, The von Seggern Family, Snippers and Jennifer Zartman Romano - Whitley County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center.

For more information about tickets to the event or to provide a donation for the event, contact the United Way of Whitley County at (260) 244-6454 or via email at unitedwayofwhitleycounty@gmail.com

Registration is required for the event and can be completed by visiting   bit.ly/uwwcpop2017

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