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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Judy Schroedl is the 2020 Yavapai Region Champion

Judy Schroedl

Judy Schroedl has been selected as the 2020 First Things First Yavapai Region 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.

Schroedl engaged in awareness-raising efforts such arranging for First Things First staff to share early childhood information at a community event. She also added early childhood information to her local community newsletter.

In addition, Schroedl provided health care providers in her area with print and digital materials to be shared with with patients about the importance of nurturing healthy brain development in the early years through singing, talking and reading with young children.

We recently caught up with Schroedl, who is retired, to ask her about her efforts.

Question: Why do you feel early childhood development and health is important?

Answer: Because this is the foundation for all future growth, learning and character development.  Encouraging curiosity is important because imagination is the key to problem solving.  Experiencing pain or disappointment and being guided through it with love and understanding helps children develop resiliency. In our country, health is often taken for granted, but nutritious eating habits, adequate sleep and being protected from disease are critical to a child’s ability to learn.  Parents are the child’s first teachers and models for their children to follow.

Question: How do you suggest other people in your community get involved?

Answer: Relationships with other adults are critical for a child to feel the world is a friendly, safe place.  Arranging activities at schools, churches, libraries, parks for children and neighbors of all ages to get together supports this goal. For example, my past experience in completing an early childhood education practicum working in a cross-generational preschool/nursing home, what an experience! Older women sat in the play area and held fussy infants and toddlers, and older gentlemen helped boys build with blocks.  An ice cream social, music, games at picnics are just a beginning.  Giving children opportunities to meet  and spend time with their neighbors is key.   Children without grandparents nearby benefit from opportunities to interact with seniors. And older adults need to be reminded that children are the future.

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