Spring into summer with ELC Family Expo

By Allen A. Buchanan Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — Over 200 people attended the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of Pinellas County’s Family Expo Spring Now Summer Wow activities last Sat., March 21 at the Childs Park YMCA. The free family expo provided parents a head start for planning structured summer activities and learning opportunities for their children.

The event featured information on licensed summer camps for children, child screenings for developmental vision and hearing, Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) registration information, children and family resources from community agencies, book giveaways and healthy food demonstrations from Publix and Boar’s Head.

“Our sponsors and vendors did an amazing job of offering information and assistance to families,” said Matthew Spence, director of planning and development for ELC. In all, 17 vendors were available for parents seeking that ideal location where they know their children will receive quality servicing by licensed summer camps.

“We were really trying to get out to the community that we have a lot of resources available that parents in general might not know how to access,” said CEO Lindsay Carson of ELC.

While the parents spent their time talking and perusing through materials provided by summer camp and VPK service providers, the children enjoyed chasing, pinching and clinging to PLATO, everyone’s favorite Publixsaurus, compliments of Publix Supermarkets, which was one of the primary sponsors of the event.

Another highlight of the event was the St. Petersburg Police Department K-9 Unit demonstration.

When the parents and their children needed an energy boost from all the running around, they were provided with free turkey, ham, bologna and cheese sandwiches, a bag of chips and a bottle of water donated by Boar’s Head.

“The committee, people from the community and community agencies came together and said we need to have everything—in terms of what would be available for the summer—under one roof,” said Terri Culbertson, director of quality at ELC.

The ELC of Pinellas County is a not-for-profit planning and funding agency focused on early care and education. Their goal is to prepare all children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed. The coalition achieves this goal in collaboration with community partners by providing services. These services are offered year round through licensed and insured service providers.

Under the same umbrella of services from ELC is the VPK program. The VPK program offers a 540 instructional hour school year program or a 300 instructional hour summer program to give youngsters a head start in literacy, mathematics and primary critical thinking skills, all of which are prerequisites to be successful in the public schools of the 21st century.

Some of the vendors who participated were the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg, R’ Club, Juvenile Welfare Board, Pinellas County Schools, Eckerd Community Alternatives, United Way Suncoast and many more.

For more information about ELC, which is housed in the YMCA Childs Park building at 691 43rd St. S., St Petersburg, you can contact Matt Spence at (727)548-1509.

To reach Allen Buchanan, email abuchanan@theweeklychallenger.com

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