Autumn Argent has been selected as the 2018 Coconino First Things First Champion for Young Children.
The award is given to local champions who actively volunteer their time to raise public awareness of the importance of early childhood development and health. Champions spend a significant amount of time volunteering with FTF and building public awareness about the importance of early childhood issues.
Argent engaged in awareness-raising efforts such as:
- Sharing early childhood information with patients.
- Connecting new parents to the FTF eNewsletter, which gives parents tips and resources.
- Reaching a broad network of medical professionals by sharing early childhood information at various luncheons hosted by the Flagstaff Medical Center.
We recently caught up with Argent, who is a nurse and childbirth educator at both Northern Arizona Healthcare and Verde Valley Hospital.
Question: Why do you feel early childhood development and health is so important?
Answer: I am passionate about early childhood development and early childhood health. Our children are the foundation of our future and how we build our foundation directly impacts the future for all of us. As a society, the greatest gift we could ever receive is our children. They are our opportunity to create a better world and grow a society that is kind, supportive, giving and loving. If we don’t invest in our children from the very beginning, in every way, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, we are neglecting our responsibility as a society and also as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents. We are effectively stating that we don’t feel that the gift of a child is important. As a mother and a nurse, I believe that it is my responsibility to ensure that not only my child is cared for, but that every parent I come in contact with and every community I work within has the same opportunity to support their children’s healthy growth and development. The first five years of a child’s life presents parents and early educators with the opportunity to shape an entire generation. It is so important to invest all that we can to support this early development and lay the foundation for a healthy future. As a nurse researcher, I can cite a wealth of literature that supports interventions in early childhood leading to an improved adolescent and adult life, but as a member of my community, I can anecdotally tell you that when we invest in our children, we benefit as a whole by raising a healthier adult community. Our children are quite literally our future. We must take care of them.
Question: How do you suggest other people in your community get involved?
Answer: I believe that the first step of involvement is awareness. It is important that other members of the community become aware of programs and resources that are available in our community for young children. Regardless of their role as a parent or caregiver of young children, knowing the resources and programs available will give them the knowledge to support their neighbors, friends and family members who are parenting young children. I would suggest that those who are interested, volunteer for organizations that promote early childhood development and health. This could be as simple as starting a parenting support and play group, a parking reading group, or even just organizing community field trip days to museums, zoos or gardens. Not everyone has to do everything. If just one family or one parent started something small, like a monthly park meet, walk and play, this could become a foundational support event for many families in the community. On an individual level, I advocate for all the new and expecting parents that I educate to read to their kids, get them into reading early, read to their newborns and infants and that they tell their friends who have infants and small children to start them reading. It truly does take a community to raise a child and a community of children, but it just takes one person to make a difference to one child. We can all do our part to support our kids in different ways, we just have to take action to engage.