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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.

Susan Elsberry is Graham/Greenlee’s 2018 Champion for Young Children

Susan Elsberry

Susan Elsberry has been selected as the 2018 Graham/Greenlee 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.

Susan engaged in awareness-raising efforts such as:

  • Co-presented an Early Childhood Everyday training to Mimi Loveridge, who also became a First Things First champion.
  • Co-presented an Early Childhood Everyday training to Graham County Sheriff Preston Allred at the new county detention facility, where we were able to distribute “Child Care Kits” for deputies to carry in their patrol cars. These Child Care Kits contain a stuffed animal, childrens book, and a parent rack card. The kits will be distributed to children as needed when they come in contact with deputies at accident scenes, or in domestic violence situations.
  • Distributed Family Resource Guides and other FTF information to business owners all over town.
  • Participated as a member of our recent “new council member” interview panel.
  • Shared First Things First messaging and resources in the form of dental kits and onesies for babies in foster care as part of the “Back Pack” project.

We recently caught up with Elsberry, who is technically retired, but spends her days as a busy volunteer for the Safford Women’s Club, SEACAB and other organizations.

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


I had many years to approach Learning Issues and Capabilities as a researcher and student of AI, Artificial Intelligence, in my field as a Manufacturing Engineer. Then at 41, I became a Mother, and realized all the information I had accessed for Early Childhood Development research in the Training Behaviors of Adults was of critical importance. The mental, physical and emotional nurturing of a baby provides the best platform for later success in life. Activities and support for Birth to Age 5 can often set patterns and learned behaviors and responses that may strongly influence the health, social connection and rationale for improved citizenry. Making better choices should be a life goal for us all. People can change, but change is hard; if we provide the best opportunities for our youngest population, problematic behaviors may be reduced. Simply put, a strong focus on Early Childhood Development and Health is important because it’s the right thing to do.



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


As this relates to FTF, I believe that you must first ‘walk the walk, not just talk the talk’. You must live a life that shows you are paying attention to all the children you encounter, not just the children you know. That leads you meeting more people and hearing their stories. This deeper knowledge of the community you live in aids in your ability to resonate with an accurate and appropriate message to share. Sharing a meaningful message leads to logical involvement with both those in need and those able to help. Communication at all age levels, peer to peer, is easily achieved through print and social media when the topic touches the heart. Pairing Senior citizen activists with Millennial achievers is a winning combination for tempering experience and local network connections with savvy media sense. There is no greater challenge or reward to helping raise a heathy, happy, well-adjusted child prepared for the world  they will inhabit and ultimately be responsible for.

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