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Northampton celebrates the Week of the Young Child with free festival Saturday

EDUCATION FEST: Brain building is the theme of the city’s annual Week of the Young Child which kicked off Monday with a proclamation from Mayor David J. Narkewicz at the Northampton Parents Center.

In cooperation with the statewide Brain Building in Progress campaign, organizers say the week’s activities aim to change public perceptions about early childhood development.

“The campaign has two purposes,” said Barbara Black, Northampton’s Early Childhood coordinator. “One is to convince stakeholders and policy makers of the importance of early childhood programs. The other is to empower parents to understand that every moment, they are educating children.”

The Brain Building campaign will educate community members about the critical role they play in supporting children’s social, emotional and cognitive development, Black said. For example, even simple interactions such as reading a book, playing peek-a-boo or simply listening to a child can all spark learning.

The highlight of the week is a free Brain Building Festival set for Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Jackson Street School, featuring hands-on activities for children and families.

Northampton has been celebrating the Week of the Young Child for two decades, since the idea was first launched by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Black said. Among the other activities slated for this week:

∎ A local children’s art show in storefront windows in downtown Northampton and Florence through April 19;

∎ An Eat and Read event featuring healthy snacks and stories at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Florence Heights Community Room;

∎ Children’s Play at noon Thursday at the Cloverdale Cooperative Nursery;

∎ A breakfast and story time at 9 a.m. Friday at the Vernon Street School Head Start;

∎ Story times for babies, toddlers and children through Friday at Lilly Library in Florence.

For details, call the city’s Early Childhood Program at 587-1471.

— BARBARA SOLOW

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