Kathy Farretta has been selected as the 2019 First Things First Coconino Region Champion for Young Children.
The award is given to local champions who actively volunteer their time to raise public awareness of the importance of early childhood development and health. Champions spend a significant amount of time volunteering with FTF and building public awareness about the importance of early childhood issues.
Farretta said she is passionate about the value of fostering early childhood development and works to bring more awareness and opportunity whenever she has the chance. As a board member for the annual Flagstaff Festival of Science, she began working with the early childhood educator community to include more early childhood programming into the festival. This past year, the Early Childhood STEAM Fair asked to become a part of the festival and had strong attendance.
Farretta also spreads the importance of early childhood through the Coconino County Adult Probation Department, where she works. She asked FTF to speak at an all-staff meeting, knowing that the probation officers she works with work with many parents. She also enlisted the student interns to help her assemble “grab bags” of resources for the probation officers to hand out to their clients.
We recently caught up with Farretta, who is part of the support staff with Coconino County Adult Probation.
Question: Why do you feel early childhood development and health is important?
Answer: The data tells us that young children are constantly seeking information and trying to make sense of the world around them. Essentially it is their job to learn and their brains are maximizing any opportunities they have to learn. Small children, even babies, learn from everything that happens around and with them. So it is essential that parents realize that the more they talk to their children, the more stories they tell, games they play, places they go, languages they speak, the more the child’s brain will gobble up. If parents don’t know this, they will not be able to seek and provide educational opportunities for their children.
Question: How do you suggest other people in your community get involved?
Answer: Anyone can make a difference because most people do not realize how much babies and small children are learning. We are a busy society with a lot of responsibility and a little child is easy to overlook if they are being good. For example, a child being mollified with a screen or simply disciplined if they are misbehaving. When adults realize that any opportunity to engage with a small child is an opportunity to feed a hungry brain, they change the way they relate to children and everyone benefits. So, get involved by simply talking to children. Or, if you have the time, read to children, take them on hikes, borrow a child, volunteer at a museum or library, become a Big Brother/Big Sister or an adopted grandparent. There are so many ways to get involved that will suit your abilities and interests. On top of making a stronger community, you will also receive baby and little kid giggles, laughs, smiles and hugs! Isn’t that awesome?