Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rolling out the red carpet for our graduation

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Yoga is part of the fun at the Child Development Center!
Things took a turn for the extremely cute last Friday morning here at Catholic Charities.  Our Kennedy Institute’s Child Development Center held its annual graduation ceremony to send off the kids who are now ready to begin school.

The children perform a song for the crowd (and run by in a blur)
We had it all: camera-wielding parents bursting with pride, kids in yellow caps and gowns and a musician playing classic Pomp & Circumstance for the entrance of our honored graduates.

Okay, I’ll admit, it was a little chaotic with 4-year-olds running around in handmade costumes, exploring the room and somewhat participating in the performances they painstakingly rehearsed for weeks. But as our program manager Barbara Lankster put it, “The children wander because that’s what children do. We want them to feel comfortable in their environment.” 

The red carpet treatment!
The Child Development Center works with both typically-developing children and children who have delayed development, providing therapeutic and occupational therapy on a daily basis.

It is truly inspiring to watch the children learn from an early age to interact and accept one another without question.  With the help of loving staff specialists and a team of volunteers, we can see children who show early signs of a delay in cognitive development “catch up” to where they should be. The program runs nearly year-round, with a two-week break in August for staff professional development before the new school year begins.

So that brings us back to Friday’s celebration – our gym at the Kennedy School was transformed with vibrant balloons, rows of chairs filled with parents and friends and cute kids. Each age group took turns performing for the crowd, singing “The Wheels on the Bus” or doing choreographed dances to a remixed version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

“Thanks to all of you – parents, staff and volunteers – these children have had a great start in life,” said Mary O’Meara, the event’s keynote speaker and Executive Director of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office on Faith, Deafness and Disabilities. “These children have learned that they are loved.”

Need more of the Child Development Center? Check out our Facebook photo album to see some of the day-to-day fun