Actress Jennifer Garner spent this week in the Palmetto state urging leaders to continue to focus on improving early childhood education.
“I really wanted to help kids, like those who I grew up with in West Virginia and in rural America,” said Garner.
Actress, Jennifer Garner saw at a young age how living in a middle class family can make a big difference when it comes to education.
She’s now an ambassador for the Save the Children Network. The program brings books and other tools to children before they are 5 years old in efforts to stimulate their minds.
“I see a light go on and they are so happy to have a little help, I see a light go on in the babies and moms faces and you see more of a connection. The more hope you have in the child and hearing the words they need to hear and accrue the language they need to be successful and read and start kindergarten.”
President of the Save The Children Network Mark Shriver says investing in children when their brain is still developing should be a bigger focus in this country.
“When you have kids that are so far behind because they are living in poverty, I think that is the greatest social justice question in this country right now. We spend billions of dollars trying to get kids up to speed, when we should be investing early in those crucial first five years,” said Shriver.
Lasonya Colter works with families in rural Orangeburg County.
“We have third graders that are reading on a first grade level, so that is why it is imperative that we have books in the home at an early age,” Colter.
Studies show that in some cases a four year old living in poverty can be 18 months behind their middle class counterparts.
Garner says it’s all because they are not engaged at a young age.
“Just like a computer screen will go to sleep if its not used, your brain does that too and for little kids when their brains aren’t being used and they are just sitting quietly that’s not good. You want them running around, you want them messy. They are working through things, they are growing, that’s the point,” said Garner.
The Save the Children Network has been in the Midland for more than 10 years and they hope to expand to more counties around the state in the future.
Four-year-olds at Bishopville Primary School likely did not recognize their special guest.
But when actress Jennifer Garner sat down in the rocking chair and read “Quick as a Cricket” to them, they were full of giggles and exclamations and, when she finished the book, urged her to “Do it again! That was fun!”
Garner – an artist ambassador for Save the Children – stopped by the school Wednesday to learn how the child-advocacy organization’s programs are impacting S.C. children.
An international child-welfare aide program, Save the Children has U.S. programs aimed at promoting early childhood literacy and health for children starting at birth.
At Bishopville Primary School, Save the Children makes after-school programs possible and sends books home with children, among other benefits, said Principal Lei Washington.
But for children ages birth to 5 years, the program sends early childhood advocates into the homes of high-poverty families to teach parents about the importance of literacy starting at birth.
Save the Children currently partners with 15 communities in six S.C. counties, serving 6,616 children. Continue Reading