October 17, 2014

Getting Outside – Preschool Trip to Shelburne Farms

Posted in Employees, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , , at 6:27 am by Lund

The kids were ready to go long before the car seats were strapped into the van and the snacks packed up.  Going on field trips is always exciting and this one particularly so – Shelburne Farms!  Six preschoolers, LECP teacher Collin Cope, Cristin Manner, a Behavioral Interventionist from the HowardCenter who works in the Lund preschool classroom twice a week, one parent and one enthusiastic field tripper from Development loaded into the van and set off to have fun on the farm.  We rode the tractor down from the Welcome Center to the Children’s Farmyard where we were met by Rachel Cadwallader-Staub, educator at Shelburne Farms, who helped the preschoolers to understand  gentle ways to touch the animals.  Then we visited the cows, sheep and goats before settling down on a log to watch the parade of chickens come out of their coop for the day.   The kids then went into the chicken coop to collect eggs and see the chickens who weren’t quite ready for the day yet.  They were enthusiastic in their egg hunting, feather petting and chicken feeding.  Then we hit the playroom which was filled with farm toys, a tractor to climb on, hobby horses to ride and all manner of other exciting things that made it a hard place to leave.  The kids had a great time exploring the different toys and I began to wonder how we would ever convince them to leave the room.  It was going to take something pretty special.  How about milking a cow?

"I heard that there were preschoolers out there.  I might just stay in here."

“I heard that there were preschoolers out there. I might just stay in here.”

Collin, who spearheaded the trip, gathered the kids together.  He made them all sit on the floor and sat right down with them.  Once all were quiet and seated (it was not instant as I’m sure you can imagine) he handed them each a plastic vegetable to hold and told them about the really exciting and special thing they were going to be allowed to do.  The kids listened and focused on Collin because he was down on their level making each of his words exciting, speaking low and slow and had given them something to hold to take away the temptation of grabbing at the toys.  He carefully laid out the next steps the kids would have to take – stand up, hold a specific adult’s hand, walk out of the room to the stone wall by the cow.  If the kids deviated from the plan, they were gently reminded and redirected.  No one cried, no one made a break for the tractor, everyone was in control and ready for the next thing.  All the kids made it to the cow and stood quietly waiting as the farmer explained how the milking would work.  They they each had a chance to milk the cow. It was impressive to watch how Collin handled the kids and set them up for a successful transition.

Milking the cow

Milking the cow

“Field trips are important because they expose the kids to experiences they might not be getting at home,” says Collin.  “It gives them a break from the routine of school and gets them out into the community where they can meet new people and interact with them.  It allows them to make connections to real life.  We read books and sing songs about chickens but on the farm they can see chickens, touch them, feel them and connect to the reality of what they have been learning about.  But the most important thing is that it is really really fun!”

By the time we all loaded back up on the wagon to head  to the parking lot, the scene was a little different.  Every child was crying at some point, there was distinct deviation from the instruction to sit properly on the seats.  Hunger and fatigue were settling in.  The other riders on the wagon pretty quickly lost their warm grins.  But without batting an eyelid, Collin and Cristin patiently and lovingly helped the kids to remember what they needed to be doing.  Hunting for bees’ nests in the trees, telling silly stories about people losing their hats and the promise of cheese at the farm shop helped the wagon ride go as smoothly as a wagon being pulled by a tractor on a dirt road can go.  The kids probably didn’t notice the magnificent view of Camel’s Hump over a cobblestone of autumnal trees or hear the honking of a seam of geese sewn across the sky but all of them knew that they had done something special that day.   They might only remember one thing – milking the cow, petting a chicken, bumping along behind the tractor, the sharp taste of cheddar on a stick – but buried down in their brains there will also be the knowledge that they had teachers who were willing and excited to take them out to see the big, bright world.

September 19, 2014

Family Dinner at LECP

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , , , , , at 9:46 am by Lund

What better way to celebrate the start of fall than with a delicious community dinner outside complete with musical entertainment and lots of friends to play with?  This was scene on Wednesday night at Lund’s Early Childhood Education Program at the Hoehl Family Building.  Kirtani Mathauer, teacher in the young toddler room, led the event inspired by community cooking classes and dinners she had helped with at other early childhood programs.  She was looking for a way for families to connect and spend some time together getting to know each other.  Parents drop off their children at different times and so their paths may never cross despite their children spending all day together.   This event was a chance to meet and eat together.

Research shows that eating together as a family is good for the brain, health and spirit of all family members.  Yum!

Research shows that eating together as a family is good for the brain, health and spirit of all family members. Yum!

The sun even made an appearance after a day of clouds and it was still warm enough to eat, play and dance outside.  The menu consisted of pasta, meatballs, eggplant parm, salad, garlic bread, and dessert provided by LECP and also dishes brought by families.  There were even enough leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day.  After dinner LECP teacher, Collin and his friend Kyle played music.  There’s nothing like toddlers dancing with their friends to a John Prine cover in the waning light of an early fall evening to make you feel pretty good about the state of the world.  The play structure built last Spring by volunteers from dealer.com served as great front row seating for the show and also provided the usual jumping and climbing entertainment for the children.

“I’m proud of the turnout,” said Kirtani, “one parent told me it was the best community dinner he’d been to at an education program because it was so relaxed and gave everyone the time to eat, have fun and talk.”

Healthy eating is a key priority at LECP as many of the children come from families struggling with food insecurity or limited access to nutritious food.  The children eat meals and snacks family style and learn how to behave considerately at the table while they enjoy a wide variety of dishes cooked on site in the school kitchen.  Lund is planning expand the food program to run parent-child cooking workshops.  This will be helped by a recent generous grant  from Seventh Generation that will provide the needed equipment to set the kitchen up efficiently and safely for the children.

Kirtani plans to organize another family dinner next year and attract even more families to share a meal together.  Thank you to all the teachers who worked hard to make this event come together and to all the families who attended and brought food to share.

June 3, 2014

6th Annual Lund Ride for Children

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Events tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:20 pm by Lund

Many people said it was the best bike ride yet.  Perhaps it was the beautiful weather – clear blue skies and sunshine.  Perhaps it was the live band – Something with Strings featuring one of our very own preschool teachers on harmonica.  Perhaps it was the more than 200 riders who came out to show their support for Vermont’s women, children and families by participating in our bike ride.  Perhaps the great support of our generous sponsors.  Perhaps a combination of all of those things.    Whatever the reason, Sunday June 1st was a very special day for Lund and we are so thankful to everyone who rode, volunteered or sponsored this event.  So far we have raised almost $52,000 and fundraising is still going until the end of June.  The money raised will go directly to support our programs in adoption, treatment, family support and education.

Riders took on the 55 mile route down as far as Grosse Point in Ferrisburgh, the 30 mile route through Charlotte, 16 miles through Shelburne or the 4 mile family ride on the South Burlington bike path.  They were greeted on their return to Joy Drive with a party featuring music, face painting, a bouncy house, burritos from Boloco, Ben and Jerry’s, Local Motion helmet decorating, Liz Lovely cookies, giant chutes and ladders from Let’s Grow Kids and so much more.  Repeat rider and Lund Board Member Sara Byers said, “Looking back at 5 years of riding the Lund bike ride with my husband and daughter, I am overwhelmed by the importance of Lund’s work.  Supporting Lund means that 170 children just last year, who were previously living in foster care, have forever families.  It means that there is a place in Vermont where women can seek help for substance abuse and mental illness WITH their children.  It means that more children thrive, more cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse are broken and more families experience joy.  As the ride departs from Joy Drive, and you feel the pride of knowing you made a difference, you, yourself, are filled with joy.” 

It was a wonderful day celebrating family, exercise, summer and an organization that has been helping Vermont families for over 120 years.   Thank you to our sponsors – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, NBT Bank, PC Construction, Starbucks, Boloco, North Star Sports, Ben and Jerry’s, Local Motion, Fletcher Allen Orthopedics and Rehabilitation,  General Dynamics, Northfield Savings Bank, Shelburne Supermarket, Stoner-Andrews, JB Kennedy Associates, Hannaford, Terry Bicycles, WCAX, Mix 102.3 and Free Press Media.

Enjoy the pictures below.

Enthusiastic 55 mile riders

Enthusiastic 55 mile riders

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And they’re off…

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Happy family team, ready to hop on the bike path and take on the family ride.

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Executive Director of Lund, Barbara Rachelson with Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger as he starts the Family Ride.

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Lund Preschool Teacher Collin Cope and his band, ‘Something with Strings’

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Seems like summer is here at the Lund Ride for Children