Programs help young families

On behalf of the southwest Kansas early childhood education community, I want to make you aware of The Week of the Young Child, an annual celebration reminding us of the importance of high-quality early learning experiences for all young children. During the week of April 10 to 16, the theme "Early Years are Learning Years" highlights this message.

In the United States, the majority of mothers with children under age 18 must work, including 59 percent of those with infants and 74 percent of those with school-aged children.

Research shows that high-quality care and early learning experiences help children especially those from families with low incomes develop the skills they need to succeed in school.

Promoting the healthy development of young children can be accomplished through quality parent education and support, child care and early education systems.

Federal, state and local government, communities, families and the private sector share in the responsibility of ensuring the health and well-being of children. We can help all children and families succeed. We can invest now in our children and families and enjoy long-term savings, with a more vibrant community and nation of healthy, achieving children and more stable families. Or we can fail to make the investment and pay the price: increased delinquency, greater educational failures, lowered productivity, less economic competitiveness and fewer adults prepared to be effective, loving parents to the next generation of children.

If we know what to do and can make a difference in the health and happiness of the children we know and care for, "why not?" Please learn about the early childhood services available in your community and find out what you can do to support them in getting results. Reach out to a family with young children and offer your help. Encourage your policymakers considering budget cuts to prioritize funding for effective programs that provide the tools young families need to raise their children in today's society. Children can't wait for us to figure this out the time is now.

The simple truth is we have the responsibility and capacity to leave this world a better place for our children. Let's celebrate the joy they bring to our lives today and provide the healthy start they need for tomorrow. You decide.

DEANNA W. BERRY,

Garden City

Berry is executive director of Russell Child Development.

Join in effort to create brand

New Boston Creative Group, LLC, has been hired by the Finney County Convention and Tourism Bureau to develop a new logo, tagline and messages for the Garden City area. We are located in Manhattan, Kan. (newbostoncreative.com), and it's our privilege to have been selected by a community-wide task force.

We want to thank the more than 70 citizens who have met with us already to talk about rebranding. The project which we're calling "Garden Fresh: Garden City Area Rebranding Project" is well under way. It has been wonderful to meet so many people who are so passionate about Garden City, and who are so supportive of updating Garden City's image to more accurately reflect the city's goals, strengths and vision for the future.

We were in town April 4, 5 and 6 for meetings with 11 different groups of people, ranging in age from 20 to 70-plus. Newcomers, lifelong residents, working people, retired people, elected officials and small business-owners generously shared their time and thoughtful perceptions about the community. The groups included people of all ethnicities who were either randomly selected or chosen because of their particular area of expertise or interest.

We discussed strengths and challenges, what makes Garden City unique, how the community can capitalize on diversity, and what the goals of rebranding should be. On a return visit, we will discuss these same topics with students, public officials and a group of southwest Kansans from outside Garden City.

From 7 to 9 p.m. on April 26 at Lee Richardson Zoo's Finnup Center, we will hold a large public forum. Community input is crucial to the rebranding process, and we want to hear from as many people as possible, so please plan to attend.

In addition, we've built a website for the process, growgardencity.com. There, you can sign up to be notified of events and updates. You can take surveys, view proposed ideas and give your feedback.

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic participation in the project, and we look forward to continuing to engage in thoughtful conversations about the image Garden City should present to the rest of the world.

LISA A. SISLEY

KRISTIN BRIGHTON,

Manhattan

Sisley and Brighton are principals of the New Boston Creative Group.