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Young Children: Priority One
Kiwanis International launched the Young Children: Priority One program in October of 1990 in an effort to focus on the needs of children age 0–5. In the years since Young Children: Priority One (YCPO) was introduced, remarkable advances in technology have changed our understanding of human brain development during the first few years of life. These findings confirm the importance of Kiwanis’ involvement in YCPO projects—and the impact we can have on society by focusing on children in these developmental stages. This is especially true for children who are at risk and more likely to fail in school and in society.
Young Children Priority One is an ongoing community service program of Kiwanis International that addresses the needs of children age 0–5. All clubs are encouraged to carry out at least two YCPO projects per calendar year, though many clubs are able to do more—serving children, families and communities.
Young Children: Priority One focuses on four key areas:
- maternal and child health
- child care and development
- parent education and support
- safety and pediatric trauma
Origins of YCPO
When Dr. Wil Blechman, a rheumatologist, decided to work with middle school children as part of a Kiwanis initiative, he was told that it was already too late for these kids, that he should be focusing on children from birth to age 5, because those were the years that counted. Intrigued, the former Florida state health officer began researching the subject. "I did not like some of the things I was learning," Blechman said. He talked about how he invited 24 Kiwanians to meet and discuss the problem. The group eventually formed a pilot program called Children: Priority One, which is still in existence today. Its goal: to take advantage of the short and crucial period of development between birth and age 5, when the brain is able to learn more quickly and effectively than it ever will again. As Kiwanis International President, Dr. Blechman took YCPO global as a Kiwanis International service program.
Current Winter Haven Kiwanis YCPO Projects
- The ELIMINATE Project - eliminating Maternal Neonatal Tetanus
- Read Around the World - providing books for pre-K students at local Head Start programs
- Every Child A Swimmer - free swim lessons in partnership with City of Winter Haven
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View January 2011 Issue of FOCUS Magazine