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April 11, 2008     Cape Gazette
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April 11, 2008

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CAPE GAZETYE - Friday, April 11 - Monday, April 14, 2008 - 111 SCHOOL & EDUCATION Attending the medal table at the Special Olympics Basketball Skills competition are Sussex Tech students (l-r) sophomore Shanay Snead, Millsboro; freshman Lindsey Rickards, Ocean View; junior Holly Passwaters, Bridgeville; and junior Cassy Galon, Ellendale. Sussex Tech stLtdents lend a hand to Special Olympics Sussex Technical High School was host to the Sussex County Special Olympics Basketball Skills Competition April 3. Ten elementary schools in Sussex County brought 175 athletes who had been training for months and were ready to showcase their bas- ketball skills. Dozens of Sussex Tech students volunteered to be scorekeepers and helpers for the competition. Medals were award- ed in dribbling, free throw and wall bounce. Special Olympics Delaware is an organization that changes lives by promoting understanding, acceptance and inclusion between people with and without intellec- tual disabilities. Through year- round sports training, athletic competitions and related programs conducted for nearly 3,000 chil- dren and adults with intellectual disabilities, the organization cre- ates a model community that cele- brates people's diverse gifts. Special Olympics Delaware builds sports skills, confidence, strength, motivation and self-esteem - not just for adults, but for everyone involved. Submitted photos Above, a few of the Sussex Tech students Hned up and waiting for the Special Olympics Basketball Skills competition to begin are (l-r) senior Ashlee Heil, Millsboro; junior Lauren Burkholder, Laurel; senior Kylee Rickards, Ocean View; senior Labrea Harvey, Seaford; sen- ior AIHe Mohun, Millsboro; senior Ellen Rowe, Selbyville; senior Lindsay Danz, Rehoboth; and exchange student Marcelo Rodriguez from Brazil. Below, assisting at the Special Olympics basketball free throw event are (l-r)-Sussex Tech students Darian Dennis, Dagsboro; C.J. Talley, Millsboro; and Chad Sturgeon, Seaford. Celebr:00gte the Week of the Young Child Children: our most precious resource, yet in the United States the majority of mothers with chil- dren under the age of 18 work, including 59 percent of those with infants and 74 percent of those with school-aged children. Half of the working families rely on childcare to help them during the day while they work. This coming week, April 13-19, is the Week of the Young Child, eople across country the are dllJrating with special events. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has sponsored the Week of the Young Child obser- vance for 71 years. The organization promotes excellence in early childhood edu- cation and advocates for the rights of young children. With so many parents working to make ends meet and so many children who attend day care and preschool, the existence of a group that promotes SCH00L JOURNAL healthy standards is reassuring. What are the most pressing issues in childcare today? According to the NAEYC web- site, working families need child- care and supportive employer policies to be able to meet the needs of their young children throughout the day. Additionally, children, especial- ly those from low-income fami- lies, need better access to high- quality early childhood programs. Research shows that high-quali- ty early childhood programs help children - especially those from families with low-incomes develop the skills they need to succeed in school. I have seen this in my own classroom. However, most programs in the United States are rated mediocre, and fewer than 10 percent meet national accreditation standards. Across the nation childcare fees average $4,000 to $10,000 per year. It is surprising that only 1 in 7 children who are financially eligi- ble for childcare subsidies is being served, and only 41 percent of 3- and 4-year-old children living in poverty are enrolled in preschool, compared to 58 percent of those whose families have higher incomes. If we look around the Cape Region it is easy to see that our community is becoming more diverse. In order for early child- hood educators to be effective they must understand and respond to a variety of children's cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The NAEYC site reports that if current population trends continue, by the year 2010, 55 percent of America's children will be white, 22 percent w, be Hispanic, 16 percent will be black, and 6 per- cent will be Asian or Pacific Islander. Perhaps it is a national disgrace, but NAEYC states that too many children in the United States live in poverty, without good nutrition and healthcare. This includes 18 percent of children under age 18 and 24 percent of children under age 6 who live in poverty. It is estimated that 12 million children do not have enough food to meet their basic needs and approxi- mately 3.2 million are suffering from hunger. One of the major issues is that many of these chil- dren are not covered by health insurance. More than 20 percent of the 2- year-olds in the United States are not fully immunized. In this election year, there are many solutions that are being dis- cussed at high levels in the feder- al and state government but we can also look toward our churches and the private sector in our own communities to create opportuni- ties to help all children. The Week of the Young Child is an opportunity to share the wealth and reap the benefits right here at home. Diane Saienni Albanese is a writer, parent and teacher in the Cape Henlopen School District. For previous columns and other writings, visit her blog at http://dalbanese,