SPRINGFIELD TWP. Three Good Beginnings Fairs were held in August in conjunction with Summit County's Kids Month, an initiative started by the late Summit County Executive Russ Pry.
On Aug. 9, a fair was held at Springfield Junior/Senior High School. Summit County's First Things First, a child development project aimed to improve the physical and mental health and early learning capabilities of children, joined with several partners to present resources to families with children ages 0 to 5 and expectant mothers.
This was the second year that a fair was held at Springfield Junior/Senior High School. Lindsay Ridinger, communications and marketing manager for Summit Education Initiative, said the purpose of the Good Beginnings Fairs is to give resources to families that includes a lot of reading material and literature that is involved with the importance of language in a child's life.
"No matter whether they can respond to you or not, just talking with your child, interacting and playing with your child is important," said Ridinger, adding that there were many resources that the organizations offer and that the fair is "a good way to have people that can help families in one place."
During the fair, parents received materials with plenty of information about young families, while children received books.
"It is important to note that this is one area where the Springfield community has been coming together around the importance of early childhood and brining resources together to get the word out to families that school readiness really begins at birth," said Laura DiCola, early childhood strategy leader at Summit Education Initiative.
She said Spring Hill Elementary Principal David Jurmanovich has been leading a readiness coalition, which consists of a group of community members, teachers and preschoolers. These organizations have begun to come together to have a dialogue about how all organizations and intuitions that guide a kid during their educational journey, can work together to improve educational outcomes and get kids ready for school.
"This is one piece in a lot of exciting things going on in Springfield," DiCola said.
A new addition to the fair this year were therapy dogs from Sit Means Sit.
"Children are encouraged to visit with the dogs, but also, to practice reading out loud to the dogs, if they are able to," Ridinger said.
Other organizations that were helping hands to the attendees were: Akron-Summit County Public Library, Head Start, Akron Area YMCA, Bright Star Books, Child Guidance and Family Solutions, Children and Books, FTF, SPARK, Summit County Development Disabilities Board, The Early Childhood Resource Center, Akron Children's Hospital, Vroom, AMBC Little Learners Preschool, United Way and Springfield Local Schools.