Catching Issues Early Helps Children Thrive
When a child has an unaddressed health or developmental concern, it can affect many areas of his or her life—especially when it’s time to start school. Research shows that nearly 40% of children enter kindergarten with some sort of barrier to success. “Often they act out because they don’t know how to ask for help,” says Diane Murray-Fleck, Executive Director of Healthy Beginnings, a local non-profit providing free pre-kindergarten health screenings to Central Oregon kids. “If we can catch those things before kindergarten, it can have a huge impact on their success.”
Healthy Beginnings provides a multi-station health and developmental assessment for children ages 5 and younger. The assessments check everything from overall physical and dental health, vision, motor skills, behavior, hearing, concepts, and speech. Local practitioners with expertise in each discipline use state-of-the-art screening tools to conduct the assessments.
According to Murray-Fleck, this gives parents an opportunity to bring up their concerns, discuss possible next steps, or simply have their worries put to rest. “Parenting is so difficult, and every parent wonders if they’re doing enough,” she says. “Even parents who have a medical home and great support sometimes have questions and need reassurance that their child is developing normally.”
Increasing Access for Local Kids
Mid Oregon’s support of Healthy Beginnings and the Adopt-A-Bear campaign began in 2004, when their work caught the notice of CEO Bill Anderson. He and then-Director Holly Remer decided to team up to help provide additional funding using a branch fundraiser. Their collaboration, starting with a drawing of a teddy bear soon evolved into the familiar bear-shaped paper cutouts that line the walls of Mid Oregon branches every April during our Adopt-A-Bear fundraiser.
Since Adopt-A-Bear began, Mid Oregon members have generously contributed nearly $25,000 in donations to provide health screenings to more Central Oregon children. In total, nearly 1,000 families each year receive a free health assessment from Healthy Beginnings, giving families greater peace of mind and ensuring that local kids get their best chance to thrive and succeed in school.
We’re inviting the whole community to stop by or call to support Healthy Beginnings through our Adopt-A-Bear fundraiser. Mid Oregon can accept your donations at any local branch, or by phone at 541-382-1795. You can also donate at our Free Shred events happening at four Central Oregon locations on April 14, 2018.
Adopt-A-Bear to help Central Oregon children start school healthy and ready to learn!