Statewide public awareness initiative targets the importance of early childhood education

The City of Atlanta announced that First Lady Sarah-Elizabeth Reed has signed on as a Champion of the new “First 2,000 Days Campaign” recently launched by GEEARS:Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students. The program works to ensure that all children receive quality early education and healthy development in their first five years. First Lady Reed also serves as a board member of GEEARS, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a vision that by 2020 all students will enter kindergarten prepared to succeed and on a path to learn to read by third grade.

“The first 2,000 days – the first five years – of a child’s life are so important because that is when critical brain development takes place,” said Sarah-Elizabeth Reed. “It is so important that parents, caregivers and community members expose children to high quality, early education programs, and good nutrition during this period. We also know that children need an environment where the family is strong, loving and nurturing. We hope that this early education campaign will support Atlanta’s children and their families.”

Studies have shown that children who have a strong foundation in early education are 40 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 70 percent less likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime. Investing in early childhood education programs has also been shown to boost local and state economies, generating a 13 percent annual return on investment.

“GEEARS is thankful to have First Lady Reed’s support for our First 2000 Days Campaign as a campaign Champion,” said GEEARS Executive Director Mindy Binderman. “As a mother of a child who is still in her first 2,000 days of life, the first lady has a personal understanding of the importance of setting a strong foundation in a child’s earliest years. Champions like First Lady Reed are community and business leaders who have agreed to utilize campaign materials and tools to spread the importance of quality early childhood across the state.”

Mrs. Reed is also an ambassador for the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club, which is another program convened by GEEARS and sponsored by PNC, the United Way of Greater Atlanta and KPMG Family for Literacy.

“It is so incredibly important for families to understand that they should be reading to their child from the day that they are born. Establishing this habit leads to tighter bonds between parents and children, and sets children up for future success,” added Mrs. Reed.

The program, which takes place each summer in various locations throughout the City of Atlanta, is targeted to children ages birth to eight and their families. Each summer, Mayor Reed announces a citywide book choice for infants, a book for children ages two to four and a book for children ages five to eight to share with their families. The City and GEEARS partner with direct service programs to plan enriching programming and to distribute copies of the books at no cost to children, and schools and early education programs are encouraged to introduce the story and distribute the books to children they serve.  This year’s book selections are A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni, Amari’s Big Idea by Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, and Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

The core mission of GEEARS is to support high-quality learning and healthy development for Georgia’s youngest children by championing policies, promoting innovative and evidence-based practices and building public awareness. To learn more about these initiatives, visit http://www.geears.org.

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