Chicago, March 29, 2012
Kristen Barnfield, Easter Seals
Today, there are more than 5 million children under the age of 5 at risk of autism, developmental delays and disabilities. The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. H.O.P.E. Ministry has designated April 2012 as Easter Seals Awareness Month, specifically promoting “Make the First Five Count Sunday” on April 1, 2012 to stress the importance of early intervention to its more than 7 million members.
The first five years of children’s lives are years of incredible learning that shape their futures. This, alone, is a reason to assure that all children have access to the resources they will need to learn and grow. Every year, more than one million young children with unidentified disabilities and developmental delays enter school with learning and health issues that put them far behind their peers and have a lasting, negative effort on their ability to meet their full potential.
Make the First Five Count Sunday will highlight MaketheFirstFiveCount.org and its numerous resources available to parents and caregivers. Members of National Baptist churches across the country will be visiting the site for free access to the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®, a developmental screening tool from Brookes Publishing, and to join Easter Seals’ advocacy efforts to encourage Congress to grow and protect funding for Part C Early Intervention Programs by signing the online petition.
“As the largest provider of autism and early intervention services, Easter Seals knows what’s possible when kids get the support they need during the first few years of life – and also what happens when they don’t,” says James E. Williams, Jr., president and chief executive officer, Easter Seals. “We are appreciative of the National Baptist Convention, churches and thousands of individual pastors and congregations that are helping to spread our message and engage their local communities.”
Easter Seals created Make the First Five Count to talk about the importance of early intervention for young kids at risk for autism, developmental delays and other disabilities. And National Baptist Convention church congregations are helping to spread the word by distributing fact sheets, informational worship guides and sharing this important message with their families and friends and in their local communities.
Easter Seals’ website is also a great place for information and to find the closest location to access Easter Seals screenings and services.