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Casper ‘Step Up for Kids Day’ Turns Four

October 10, 2011

CASPER, Wyo. - Good nutrition, mentoring, and high-quality child care in the early years: those are some of the topics for the fourth annual "Step Up for Kids Day" in Casper Tuesday. The mayor will proclaim the day, as experts gather to talk about ways to help set kids on the road to success as adults.

Jillian Riddle, a volunteer coordinator, says there's a big difference to be made.

"This small investment, early in their lives - what the impact for our future, and for our state, and our country will be."

She says that investment can be through Head Start, and other affordable high-quality early-learning programs.

Also, she says, there will be a call to state policymakers to make a significant investment in quality early education. She says the window of learning between birth and age five is vital, because that's when most brain structure develops, which sets the stage for benchmarks in academics and social learning.

"I hope that the public begins to realize just important early childhood is."

Former state legislator Ann Robinson is one of the speakers. She'll outline opportunities the state has seized, and some it has missed. One success story is the "Gear Up" program, which won a long-term federal grant to offer tutoring to middle and high school students planning to go to college.

The event starts at 11:30 a.m. at the First Interstate Bank Plaza in Casper. It is organized by groups and individuals, including Head Start, Serve Wyoming, the Equality State Policy Center, Apple Tree Learning Center, Casper Family YMCA, Boys and Girls Club of Central Wyoming, and the Social Work Division at UW/CC.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY