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Head Start male involvement night to take place Wednesday

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Promoting male involvement in early childhood learning will help to develop a child’s social and emotional skills, according to Head Start staff at the Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County.

Cindy L. Dumas, CAPC family service specialist, said the benefit of having more fathers, grandfathers, uncles, male cousins and other male role models involved in a child’s CAPC-sponsored Head Start or universal prekindergarten classroom goes directly to the child.

“In my experience with Head Start, research shows the kids are more socially and emotionally developmentally competent,” she said. “It’s our job to educate (males) about being involved. We can teach them how easy it is and we can teach them how to be comfortable and play with them.”

Mrs. Dumas said fathers or father figures to all of CAPC’s 275 Head Start children or CAPC’s 216 universal prekindergarten pupils in the Watertown City and Indian River Central school districts are invited to learn more about that by attending the seventh annual male involvement night from 4:45 to 6:45 p.m. Wednesday in the gymnasium at the agency, 518 Davidson St.

Activities include fire safety, science fun and story-time workshops, and there will be a visit from New York State Zoo at Thompson Park animals, a family photo booth and a spot to decorate journals and bookmarks. Active play time includes a mock construction site and a teddy bear health clinic.

“It’s about active participation, not just being passively there,” said Denise L. Blair, education and mental health specialist for the agency’s Head Start/Universal Pre-K program.

During the event, Mrs. Dumas said, males learn how to play and get down to a child’s level. Father figures already are involved in a child’s development, she said, because each Head Start classroom does two male initiatives each year.

Learning what male figures can do throughout the school year also helps men be more involved through Head Start parent committees and the agency’s policy-making committee.

“You can be involved in a committee too and never make decisions, or you can be engaging,” Mrs. Dumas said. “We teach families about that difference.”

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