Community Spotlight: Non-profit helps families navigate early childhood development

The first 2,000 days of life are critical for a child’s development
Updated: Apr. 8, 2021 at 3:52 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The first 2,000 days of life are critical for a child’s development. Smart Start of New Hanover County helps families navigate the winding road from birth to age five.

“We build our brains during that time,” said Jane Morrow, the executive director for Smart Start of New Hanover County. “That brain development really sets the trajectory for the rest of our lives. So if we get it right in the early years, we really set people up to succeed in life.”

Smart Start is a non-profit organization that offers programs for parents, caregivers, and children to prepare them for success as they grow towards an age to start attending school. They also work with education leaders in the community to guide children on their path to success.

“Our mission is to make connections with families, with early educators, and with other community groups so that everybody can have that early childhood lens,” said Morrow.

Smart Start’s services are open to caregivers regardless of how many children they have. The program also helps prospective parents prepare for parenthood.

During the pandemic, Smart Start has been offering use of their facilities on an appointment basis, which is an example of one of the many adjustments children have had to make during the pandemic, which has taken up over a year of their young lives. Morrow says Smart Start plans to open for drop-in sessions once circumstances allow.

“[We want] to try and make sure that children have the kinds of environments that are enriching and help them thrive and help their families flourish,” said Morrow.

Each year, Smart Start hosts a “Breakfast for Children’s Champions” fundraiser. The organization asks community members to nominate people they believe should be honored for their dedication to children’s development and education.

“It’s an opportunity for us to highlight people in our community who have done amazing things on behalf of young children,” said Morrow.

This year’s fundraiser was held online on March 30.

If you want to get involved with Smart Start, or if you want to donate or learn more about their programs, you can visit their website.

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