First Impressions holds retreat

Participants discussed topics on early childhood care, education

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Young Tracks Preschool & Childcare 3-year-olds, from left, Gracie Eastman, Winter Calhoon, Jack Robinson, Lance Johnson, Kylie Kuhl, teacher Lisa Klingener, Edna Ponce and Adler Souther learn the alphabets by fishing for letters to complete a worksheet after a Monday afternoon nap.

— First Impressions of Routt County's focus is early childhood care and education, but the adults involved with the organization never stop learning.

Last week, First Impressions held its annual retreat, giving its board and other guests a chance to discuss things First Impressions has accomplished during the past year and a direction for the organization to go next.

Nearly three dozen adults attended the retreat to talk about early childhood education and care in Routt County.

"It was a very interactive meeting," said Stephanie Howle, First Impressions early childhood manager. "It's all about creating this early childhood system where you are bringing in all the people who work in this area and have experience in this area."

Karen Massey, a First Impressions board member and extension agent with Colorado State University, discussed developmental assets with the retreat attendees.

Massey cited information from the Search Institute, which is an independent nonprofit with the mission of providing leadership, knowledge and resources to promote healthy children, youths and communities, during a presentation.

Creating the framework of 40 developmental assets is the heart of the institute's work, and Massey gave a presentation and staged an interactive activity to help explain the importance of developmental assets in early childhood care and education.

"Studies were done on healthy adults looking back on how they got to be where they were," Howle said.

Most studies are conducted to explain why something went wrong, but Massey's presentation talked about the positive correlation between the 40 developmental assets and healthy, responsible and productive adults.

During the retreat, the participants split up into small groups to discuss the following topics: social, emotional and mental health; development of a literacy program that would go from early childhood care into the public school system; public outreach; educational opportunities; and payback on investments.

Howle is excited about an upcoming activity in January that touches on most of those aforementioned topics.

Howle also reminded Routt County residents that April is the Month of the Young Child and numerous activities have been planned, including the parade on Lincoln Avenue.

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