United Way of Franklin County fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in the community. This month, that mission looks like an office bustling with United Way staff and volunteers who are earnestly preparing for their annual Learn & Play Day event. “This one-day event brings together hundreds of Franklin County families each year, connecting them to critical early childhood resources and childcare providers,” says Amy Hicks, Executive Director of UWFC. “By kindergarten, around 90% of a person’s brain growth has already occurred. Research shows that what happens during those first years has a profound effect on a person’s future success. Our focus is on supporting families with young children to make the most of these special learning years.”
This free family fun event promotes learning and engagement for children aged 0-5 through interactive activities such as barrel train rides, read-aloud bilingual story times, a sensory exploration trail, and more. “Families can swing by ‘Touch-a Truck’, sponsored by Volvo, for a hands-on exploration of Franklin County emergency vehicles. They can grab a snack from the ‘snack shack’, and then unleash their creative and constructive energy at ‘Blockfest’, where participants build with oversized foam blocks. There are many ways for families to enjoy their time together,” says Hicks.
But this event is about more than just family fun. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, one in four children in America grow up without learning how to read. The U.S. Department of Justice warns that two out of three fourth grade students without proficient reading skills will go on to serve jail time or rely on welfare for support. In Pennsylvania this statistic is especially alarming, given that 60 percent of fourth grade students are not reading on basic grade level (The Nation’s Report Card). Early childhood learning is shown to have a profound effect on literacy and adult success. The National Adult Literacy Survey reports that children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they
start school are three to four times more likely to drop out. Learn & Play Day with United Way aims to reduce this risk, by introducing families with young children to community partners who specialize in early childhood learning and development.
Learn & Play Day will be held on May 6th from 10 am to 2 pm, on the campus of LifePoint Church located at 339 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg. The event will feature indoor and outdoor activities including inflatables, door prizes, and a live broadcast from WAYZ 104.7. The event is free and open to the public.