SHERIDAN — Sheridan will host the statewide symposium “Building Communities Where Children and Families Thrive: The Science of Early Childhood” on Sept. 26 and 27. The event will be held at Sheridan College in the Whitney Presentation Hall and is free and open to the public.
“What we are trying to do is really raise people’s knowledge of the link between adversity in early childhood and impacts on the individuals and communities over time,” said Michelle Sullivan, who is helping organize the event on behalf of the Homer and Mildred Scott Foundation and the Center for Inspired Learning Environments.
“I think we all kind of inherently understand that early childhood is an important topic but this new research really shows how critically it is linked to the success of individuals over the course of their entire lives,” she added.
Sullivan said the focus of the symposium is to present cutting-edge research on early childhood development issues and translate that research into on-the-ground efforts that will positively impact the health and vitality of children and families over the long term. Several national experts will present their research throughout the two days and First Lady Carol Mead will open Friday’s program.
“It has really not happened in the state before as far as I know,” Sullivan said about the caliber of the symposium and the speakers coming to present. “The uniqueness of it is bringing really strong research into practice.”
Sullivan said Thursday’s presentations are geared toward health care professionals and individuals working directly with children and families such as caregivers, foster parents and parents.
She said Friday’s presentations are geared toward a broader audience including business owners, policy makers and other members of the community who can contribute to the well-being of community children.
The programs begin each day at 8:30 a.m. A complete agenda of events is available at www.wyokidsfirst.org
“I am hoping that we’ll begin a regional dialogue that this is not an issue reserved for families and parents and caregivers, but it needs to be a community conversation and ultimately our community will be much more vital if we are paying attention to how we support all children and families in our communities,” Sullivan said.
“I think a lot of adversity in Sheridan — and a lot of communities like ours — is hidden,” she continued. “You have a significant amount of the population that is in very stressful situations and trying to go it alone and that is extremely damaging for children in particular. So by really understanding how we all take responsibility for creating those systems of support, I think we can improve the outcomes for all children.”
Although the event is free, organizers are asking that participants pre-register if possible at www.wyokidsfirst.org or by calling 307-996-6903.