The Two Hills and Area Early Childhood Coalition mission statement is to work collectively towards creating an environment that supports the best possible conditions to promote optimal development for children.
One of many actions undertaken by the coalition is planning community events for National Child Day. This past November, the Two Hills and Area Early Childhood Coalition held a “Touch the Truck” event at the Two Hills Fire Hall in partnership with the Two Hills Fire Department, EMS, Victim Services Unit, RCMP, Public Library, Parent Link Centre and FCSS. This years’ event was very successful due to the many partnerships, volunteers, and overwhelming interest shown by the community.
In order to increase awareness of early childhood development in the community, the group wanted to involve organizations that have not been a part of past ECD events. One of our goals was to expand our partnerships and build knowledge of our coalition and its activities. Another goal was to have children and their families meet and interact with emergency services personnel in an environment that was welcoming and interactive; where service providers could be seen as helpers who are important members of our community.
Over 150 people came to the event. Upon arrival at the Two Hills Fire Hall, families had the opportunity to tour through the back of an ambulance, turn on the fire truck siren and sit in the back of a police car. Other activities included child identification kits with finger printing, making identity bracelets with the Parent Link Centre and a light supper of chili on a bun and fruit kababs. Door prizes and other items were given away to participants.
One key factor to our success was recruiting three Mennonite School staff to serve as translators to assist with welcoming people at the door, completing evaluations, and explaining the fingerprinting activity. We also ensured any books or other items given away were considered culturally acceptable to the Mennonite community.
As a follow up to the event, the local newspaper did a comprehensive write-up that included pictures of the event. We were very delighted to hear the partnering organizations were pleased with how the event went. All agencies have indicated that they would be willing to work with us again on other projects. Our group will definitely be hosting another National Child Day event next year.