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By Michael Souza
PBN Staff Writer
NEWPORT – Earlier this month, BankNewport provided a $5,000 grant to Baby Steps of Newport to expand its community outreach and program evaluation.
Baby Steps’ goal is to increase the verbal and non-cognitive skills of children, a key component of which is parent involvement, encouraging them to understand and embrace their critical role as teachers in the pre-k years and throughout their child’s education. The program was started in 2009 by volunteer representatives from the local medical profession, Newport public school system and local social service agencies.
In celebration of their efforts, BankNewport Vice President and Newport Branch Manager Jennifer Pratt joined Baby Steps President Dr. Charles Shoemaker, for a recent session for children and parents held at the Florence Gray Center in Newport.
The program mirrors that of the “baby college” program offered at the Harlem Children Zone in New York, where young parents are invited to a Saturday session to interact with their children on educational and fun activities to improve the child’s literacy and social skills. It also introduces parents to important methods of behavioral modification so their child will be attentive when ultimately entering formal schooling.
Baby Steps is a similar program, utilizing generally volunteer community resources – educators, members of the medical profession, social workers and other volunteers – to implement a comprehensive integrated program. It is committed to raising the literacy and social skills of children, and to foster parental involvement through interactive programs between parents and children so that the children will eventually succeed in the K-12 regular school program and ultimately attend and graduate from college. For more information on Baby Steps, contact Shoemaker at (401) 846-3388.
The grant was part of BankNewport’s continuing community outreach program with includes both grants and event sponsorship.