On Sunday the Great Rivers United Way, in collaboration with 12 area organizations, launched Sparks. The new public engagement campaign helps to turn every moment into a learning experience for a child.
The campaign is now in effect around La Crosse but the project has been developing for years.
"This is a collaborative group that has been meeting for about three years and we just launched this public campaign that lets people know it's important to talk to your kids," Executive Director for Great Rivers United Way Mary Kay Wolf describes.
Wolf explains that roughly 90% of brain development happens in the first five years of a child's life.
"Children aren't in school yet, some are starting pre-K, but those are really important moments to make sparks." Marketing Director for Great Rivers United Way Adrianne Olson says.
With the tag line, "Every Moment is a Learning Moment," the initiative says sparks can fly in any scenario.
"I would say that a spark would be that moment you're chatting with a child and their eyes just light up." Olson elaborates.
"It doesn't matter if you're grocery shopping, or if you're going through the drive-through of a bank, or if you're petting a dog or a cat, those are times for parents and caregivers to really take the opportunity to teach their child something," Wolf continues.
The movement describes three methods to create sparks: asking children questions, doing things with them, and simply telling them things.
"If they're sitting in the grass, tell them about the grass. It really doesn't matter that a 12-month-old understands every word that you're saying it just matters that you're telling them something," Wolf remarks.
Great Rivers United way facilitates the campaign but a collaboration with 12 other community organizations helps make it possible.
"With the collective work of all the early childhood experts and the guiding tips that will be throughout the entire community ... everybody will be in it together," Wolf exclaims.
Tips for making sparks with your children will soon be on display in business around our area.
Sparks launched their involvement in the community by sponsoring Coulee Parenting Connection's Family Fun Expo in Onalaska.
The event brings various businesses and organizations around our community together for a day of family fun. By offering chances for kids to pick up new hobbies and experience new things the expo provides parents an opportunity to devote time to their children free from distractions.
"It really validates them as kids and lets them know that they're part of the family and that family time and conversation is important and we really do care and are interested about what's going on in their life and their day," Carolyn Knapp describes while holding her child Sylus at the expo.
For more information regarding sparks and the importance of interacting with your children visit their web-page.
MORE: Great Rivers United Way