ANN ARBOR – First Steps is an early childhood program through Ann Arbor Public Schools and Rec & Ed for young children and their parents.
The program started seven years ago with grant funding from the state. After losing that funding, organizers started a PTO to get First Steps registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to continue supporting families.
"One of our goals is to have as many scholarships as families that want to come," said First Steps manager Marj Hyde. "One of the first things we did was to do our first Trike-a-Thon. Our intent was and is to create a fun, family event. It's a chance for the families to get together and also get together the community to know about First Steps. We’re here to meet the needs of the families where they are from birth to kindergarten."
She said she has seen First Steps have a profound effect on the local community.
"There are a lot of people who come to Ann Arbor with no idea of how long they’re going to be here," said Hyde. "What (the program) does that I think is very powerful is create a home base connection with other families that are very accepting and welcoming of everyone. When people stay in Ann Arbor, this creates some of the first parent friendships they have."
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According to the First Steps website, families who join receive:
- Fun and exciting classes offered year-round to help children socialize with others.
- Family gatherings to socialize in informal, fun ways are offered regularly. Favorites are musical evenings and open gym playtime.
- Teachers who provide age-appropriate development activities and even share parenting information to address any of your parenting concerns.
- Screenings for your child using the Ages & Stages Questionnaire. This tool helps you observe your child's developing skills.
- Monthly E-Newsletters share news about First Steps and our community.
- Resource Network that links your family to other community services and supports.
The community-based program will be holding its sixth annual Trike-a-Thon Fall Festival fundraiser on Sept. 21 at Westerman Preschool & Family Center (2775 Boardwalk Drive) from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
How it works:
- Participants can print paper forms for friends and families to sponsors them for $5 and up.
- Pay at the door option is available, as well.
- All are welcome to attend the event.
- Children can bring anything on wheels to ride around the parking.
- Parents with babies can bring strollers to push.
- Expect special races, ribbons and a Bike Wash (if weather permits).
As with any race event, bagels and bananas will be provided, and parents will enjoy sipping on Black Diesel coffee.
Hyde, who also runs Ann Arbor's Safety Town, said children are also taught about bike safety at the Trike-a-Thon.
The Trike-a-Thon features several activities for kids, including:
- A fire truck for children to explore
- Bloom Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics will hand out free T-shirts to the first 50 kids
- Gordo the Magician (pending availability)
- Goodie Truck with free ice cream
- Bean bag toss and other fun games
- Fit4Mom Play Date
If you are unable to attend the event but would like to make a donation, click here.
For more information about First Steps, visit its website.
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