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The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world's largest early childhood education association, has designated April 19-25 as the Week of the Young Child and, in support of 2009's theme, "Bringing Communities Together for Children - Children Bring Communities Together," Kiddie Academy of Hicksville, is joining the effort.

Kiddie Academy, an Office of Children and Family Services-licensed childcare learning center and NAEYC affiliate, will hold a free family-oriented community event on April 18.

According to owner Russell Plevretes, the idea for the West John Street center to celebrate the Week of the Young Child came from his director and Saturday's community event serves as a kickoff for the public; Kiddie Academy also has various things planned throughout the week for center children and parents.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., children will have an opportunity to enjoy inflatable rides, a petting zoo, pony rides, characters, food and many other activities while parents can gain access to important resources. Professionals in pediatric dentistry, family medicine and pediatric chiropractics along with experts in nutrition, exercise and other areas will all be on hand. Additionally, the New York State Police will speak about the importance of car seats and their proper installation, and members of the Hicksville Fire Department and the MTA will discuss fire and railroad safety, respectively.

Many local businesses have also pledged support, donating items to be raffled off, and a Scholastic Book Drive to promote childhood literacy is also planned. Plevretes told the Hicksville Illustrated News that 100 percent of proceeds from both the raffles and the book drive will go to the Wantagh-based John Thiessen Children's Foundation, a nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping sick children newborn to 18-years-old.

"This is an event to honor children and what better way to honor children than to donate money to an organization that helps them," said Plevretes, adding that the goal of the event is to not only "create a forum for people to interact with those who work with children every day," but also to present a "multifaceted event that is enjoyable as well as informative."

NAEYC, founded in 1926, is dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8. Week of the Young Child was established in 1971 in an effort to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs as well as how the community, as a whole, can better meet the needs of all young children and their families.

The public is invited to stop by Kiddie Academy of Hicksville on Saturday, April 18 for the Week of the Young Child community event. For more information, call 931-3330. For more information about NAEYC, visit www.naeyc.org.


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