On Thursday, April 19th, my father and I attended the Terri Lynne Lokoff Childcare Foundation (TLLCCF) Tylenol, National Child Care Teacher’s Awards Ceremony at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. It was quite an evening, filled with excitement and awe. As you looked around the room, and recognized that this diverse crowd was here for one reason; advocating quality childcare. The program consisted of an array of distinguished keynote speakers- Child Care Advocates, the Philadelphia Police Commissioner, the District Attorney of Philadelphia, an Army Colonel, a physician and VP of McNeil Consumer Affairs, and a representative of the 188th Legislative District in Philadelphia. One after another, these impressive individual addressed the group stressing the importance of early childcare. There were statistics and anecdotes mentioned through out the program, indicating how building a foundation at this early age is essential for the success for a child later in life.
One of the Speakers, Dana Friedman, the President of the Early Years Institute and a policy analyst for children’s issues, as well as an HMESF supporter, highlighted the impact of media and the multiple screens viewed by a young child. She mentioned that in children aged 2-5; the average time spent with screens was 32 hours per week. Since 1980 the use of screens doubled in these same aged children. How does this negatively affect children? There is a major impact on social emotional development, health, and education. These children have been raised with screens instead of engaging in traditional play with other children. As a result there is in an increase in ADHD, kids bouncing off the walls in childcare, less attention tension span, increased insomnia and nightmares. There is a rise in childhood obesity, asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. There is a decrease in school readiness, lower vocabularies, as children are falling behind in school. Dana asked all the parents and providers in the room to take a minute over the next week to determine the amount of time their children were spending in front of the screens and not interacting with others. If we are ultimately focusing on the quality of the social emotional well-being and education of early children, this is something we all must evaluate and change.
The evening continued with the recognition of early child care providers representing the 50 states. The 48 who attended the ceremony were acknowledged. The Teacher’s Award was founded in 1994 to date there have been 687 recipients. My father and I had the privilege of presenting this years’ recipient Jessica Aquii with the Helene Marks Award. It is apparent from the success of the program to date, all the hard work and dedication of the providers, the TLLCCF, and Children’s Tylenol, I am proud to say, that my mom Helene Marks had quite an impact! She had the foresight to create an award that focused solely on the provider, whom she felt was never properly celebrated. The TLLCCF provides $1000 to the winner of the award. Now, the Helene Marks Early Start Foundation (HMESF) is thrilled to continue my mother’s vision by collaborating with TLLCCF on this initiative for the fourth year. We announced and provided the top 10 finalists, as well the recipient of this years’ Helene Marks Award with a library of books that will be sent to each of their centers over the next few weeks. As the event came to a close, we were excited to announce that as of 2012, there are 61 HMESF libraries throughout the United States.