CDF Action, established in 2010, engages Clarkston, Georgia residents and partners to craft innovative, culturally-sound, community-driven education initiatives, building on community assets. CDF Action’s mission is to transform education so Clarkston’s children and youth will be nurtured, supported and prepared to learn – from early childhood through postsecondary education.
CDF Action formed the Clarkston Early Learning Network (CELN), made up of a group of individuals, agencies, public officials and others, to promote early learning and literacy for all children ages birth to eight. While sharing the importance of language acquisition and literacy, CDF Action also shared the importance of healthy eating and physical fitness, with families in Clarkston where over 60 languages are spoken in a square mile.
CDF Action and CELN are currently working on a strategic early learning and literacy plan that builds on programs like Eat. Move. Talk!, an initiative of the Georgia Department of Public Health, and other assets and will actualize their vision of a Clarkston where all families have access quality early childhood education and care – including access to healthy food, physical activity, and language rich environments.
CELN’s signature event is the annual “Clarkston Tell Me a Story!” festival. This free, family-oriented event is a celebration of culture, literacy and language. In 2018 CELN held their sixth festival, and it was attended by over 350, including children, families, partners, food vendors and sponsors. The theme of this year’s storytelling event was Eat. Move. Talk!. The storytelling event celebrated healthy eating and movement as activities for families’ daily lives.
Sixteen partners had literacy games like book-making and recipe-creating. Participants could also work on a llama project with the Michael C. Carlos Museum, try a juicy red apple at the Nam Dae Mun Farmers Market table, or engage in play with puppets from the Atlanta Puppetry Guild. The festival favorite was the Center for Puppetry Arts which helped children create their own puppet.
The Clarkston Tell Me A Story Festival! kicked off a citywide campaign to share Eat. Move Talk! messages. With support from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement and Literacy for All, CDF has organized local pop-up literacy events and used existing activities to share Eat. Move. Talk! activities and messages.
For example, at one event for families from Iraq and Sudan, families used Eat. Move. Talk! easy-to-read parent tips, translated into Arabic, to discuss healthy eating, moving and talking. The discussion was led by Shahed Waheeb, translator for the event. Each mom picked one tip and created SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented and timely) goals based on that tip. Families also read an over-sized children’s book together and explored increasing their vocabulary in English and Arabic.
At an event with the summer Pre-K program at Early Learning Scholars, CDF staff members gave an interactive presentation on Eat. Move. Talk! and shared books from the Mayor’s Summer Reading Project. Parents practiced how to lead their children in movement while introducing new words and concepts in English and in their home languages. Parents also learned new strategies from each other to support healthy eating and moving with the kids.
Furthermore, at the literacy table at the Clarkston National Night Out, children and their families were able to choose age-appropriate books that interested them with the help of volunteers. There were books about animals, sports, famous people and more. One mother said it was like being in a book store, but better. They could pick out the books they wanted based on their child’s interest, not the cost. Eat. Move. Talk! recipe cards were also available at the event, and it was a great opportunity to share simple tips for healthy habits and to grow children’s love for books. Other literacy, health, and fitness events are being planned this fall at community gardens and apartment complexes.
Finally, CDF Action recently implemented a new initiative called “Walk with a Doc,” developed with Dr. Heval Kelli, a cardiologist at Emory University. The walk is an opportunity for community members of all ages to walk together and learn about a health issue. Before each walk, Dr. Kelli or a medical resident, gives a mini-talk on issues such as blood pressure, diabetes and healthy eating. Walkers of all ages then walk the local hiking trail to talk about health and wellness. A literacy table with free books and information is available at each walk.
To learn more about CDF Action, visit their website at: http://cdfaction.org/
About Eat. Move. Talk!
Eat. Move. Talk! works with educators to help young children build healthy habits through language rich interactions. The program integrates Georgia Shape and Talk with Me Baby, a program that increases meaningful conversations with babies to support learning language and developing babies’ brains. Eat. Move. Talk! also shares the message that conversations with babies and children are valuable in all languages, especially in home languages.