STRATHMORE — “Lucy,” a brightly painted bus parked Tuesday at Sunnyside Elementary School West Strathmore, is a mobile unit sponsored by Save the Children, STC, to serve families, school districts and communities. It’s not just a rolling classroom, it’s a multipurpose vehicle distributing early learning materials, books and food safety, Save the Children staff said.
“This is our first event,” said Victoria Rodriguez, Save the Children’s Prenatal to 5 coordinator. “But you will see how the mobile unit in Tulare County and Fresno County is supporting school districts working with Save the Children and their surrounding communities.”
They had books to give to families in the community, as well as a prenatal to 5 year pre-kindergarten program of early educational games, crafts, and fun activities for young children and their families. In addition to the activities, Save the Children distributed 170 food boxes to families in Sunnyside and the general community.
“This is such an amazing program. It helps primiparae and new mothers with education, nutrition and health information before their baby is born,” said a Save the Children staffer.
“We will provide parents and their children with an early learning experience, and today they will explore topics such as social emotional learning and early writing skills, problem solving, health and nutrition. They will also read aloud with a Save the Children coordinator,” Rodriguez said.
Diana Mata, who has been the coordinator of Early Steps Save the Children in Sunnyside for 10 years, explained that the community lacks resources and many people do not have cars.
“School is a resource for them, and the bus “Lucy” is here to stay. This is now part of the Sunnyside Union school district,” Mata said.
She spoke in Spanish to the parents and children in the Kindergarten Readiness Class about the bus and the early intervention programs sponsored by Save the Children.
Mata later explained that they thought this was the perfect time to introduce the bus and programs since families are taking a break during Thanksgiving and the school wanted to make sure they had the study materials. The chicken dinner was also a balanced meal, as were the fruits and vegetables given to the families. Mata said she was delighted that so many families attended the event.
One of the games at Kindergarten Readiness was for children to identify and match cards with fruit on them. Mata encouraged children and parents helped them. After the game they were given a fresh apple, banana or orange of their choice.
STC is there to support families and children in rural areas, said the many coordinators in Sunnyside.
“We’re very excited and happy to have this bus,” said Anna Bravo, “we’re a little more distanced from the community we serve, Plainview. So we can bring the school to them.
“We will also be sharing the bus with our other STC colleagues, delivering books, school supplies and food safety and other items to Tipton, Farmersville, Kings River at Reedley, Alpaugh, Pleasant View, Alta Vista and Kings Canyon.”
Sunnyside’s mother, Adriana Ambriz, said it’s great what they’re doing for the community. Especially early childhood reading promotion.
Ana Guzman and her little girl Melissa, 4, had a great time at the Kindergarten Readiness class. “This is a great activity and Melissa is very excited to be here,” said Guzman.
Miguel Quijada was there with his son Israel, 2. He said: “This is really good for the community and, most importantly, it teaches us about healthy eating, our children and our diet.”
Before distributing the food packages, the STC coordinators played a game with families and children at the kindergarten readiness event and gave out Christmas wrapped gifts if people answered their questions correctly.
It was a wonderful afternoon event for families and people happily went home with gifts and food packages.
“I think this is an excellent event for the community and Diana Mata is a great person to help the people of Plainview and Sunnyside. Because it’s a small school and community, I think the superintendent and school board are very involved in everything that comes with it and it makes a huge difference to the community,” said Adella Totty, who has worked for the school for 34 years school and is now busy with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”I’m sticking with it.”