The Sedalia-Pettis County United Way recently announced the recipients of its first two Community Impact Grants.
The Smithton Lil’ Tigers Learning Center Preschool and the Melita Day Child Development Center at State Fair Community College were awarded the grants.
Initially, the organizations are each being awarded $3,750 with an additional $1,250 that will be presented after a review of the programs. In total, each program can receive $15,000 over the course of three years.
For Kim Watkins, director of Melita Day, the grant opens a world of possibilities for the children who attend the day care.
“This is just what the kids need,” Watkins said. “With it we will be able to expand our STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, especially in our 3- to 5-year-old program.
“I don’t know that we are going to be getting anything really fancy with the grant but we will be getting some really great materials that the students will be able to use and benefit from,” she added. “Even students at our age level can really benefit from these concepts and if we’re going to do the activities we need to make them be meaningful and things they can apply.”
Watkins said after spending seven years at the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri she understands the process of grant writing and how to stretch a dollar.
“We just did an activity using baking soda and vinegar and we had the students draw what they saw,” Watkins said. “They may not understand at the time that they were seeing a chemical reaction but someday they will.
“Science and art always work well together and literature does too,” Watkins added. “We’re fortunate that we have Vicki Weaver who helps us a great deal by using her visual thinking strategies with the students. With everything we do we try to tie in as many concepts as we can.”
One thing Watkins hopes to purchase is a set of small-sized lab coats that the students can wear when they work on their science activities.
“I really want to get them some white coats to help them have a sense of recognition when they are doing their science experiments,” Watkins said. “We are teaching them things they need for the future as well as helping them to develop their life skills.
“We have something we call the pom-pom pond that is an area only for our students who are on task. If they are exhibiting good behavior by trying their hardest, being a good friend, respecting the bubble (personal space) of others and using their listening ears, they get a pom pom,” Watkins explained. “After they get four in their basket, they get a reward and can play in the special area of the playground. It’s a way we can show them to do what’s right.”
After the presentation of the grant in Smithton, SPCUW Executive Director Staci Harrison said one of the most critical ways the organization felt it could help the community was through education.
“The grants need to focus on projects that are sustainable and ongoing and we realize that education is one of the best ways that we can ensure this,” Harrison said.
Melita Day is licensed for 67 students and has some preschool openings available for the fall. For more information on Melita Day Child Development Center, call 827-4334 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.