A crowd of more than 30 parents, teachers, librarians, and other community members gathered at the Downtown branch of the Spokane Public Library on August 25th to recognize Senator Lisa Brown (3rd District) and Representative Kevin Parker (6th District) at the first annual Crayon Awards in Spokane. The energy in the room was palpable; the Spokane community was thrilled to thank Senator Brown for her ongoing leadership in early learning by presenting her with the Gold Crayon award.
Tim Henkel, President and CEO of Spokane County United Way, emceed the awards presentation. As a member of the Inland Northwest Alliance for Early Learning, Tim explained the important connection between policy at the state level and investments in local early learning programs. Senator Brown brought this connection to life during the 2010 legislative session by protecting critical investments in early learning programs that are essential to families and communities in the Spokane region.
Senator Brown spoke to the audience: “I draw my hope and encouragement from you—knowing that we are building a sophisticated and political movement on behalf of children in our state.” Representative Parker sent his regrets that he could not join the event. As an emerging voice in early learning, Representative Parker earned the Bronze Crayon award.
The energy at the Spokane event was mirrored in Walla Walla on Aug. 31. Children at the Washington State Migrant Council (WSMC)-College Place Child Development Center beamed as they sang a round of songs to Rep. Maureen Walsh (16th District) and Rep. Larry Haler (8th District). The WSMC was host to the first annual Crayon Awards in Walla Walla (pictured above), recognizing Reps. Walsh and Haler for their outstanding work in early learning during the 2010 legislative session.
Following the children’s fabulous performance, Rick Garza, of WSMC, spoke of the significance of the College Place Child Development Center to the community. Families in the College Place neighborhood rely on the Center for its high quality ECEAP, Migrant Head Start, and Early Head Start programs that serve more than 180 children. The success of the program is evident in raving reviews from parents and children’s academic gains.
Jim McCarthy, a businessman and board member of the Walla Walla Valley Early Learning Coalition, introduced the legislators and presented them with Silver Crayon awards. He spoke of Representative Walsh’s belief in parents as their children’s first teachers and, as a result, her staunch support of home visiting as a way to empower parents. He also spoke of Representative Haler’s dedication to providing early learning opportunities to Washington’s at-risk children. In accepting their awards, both legislators pledged their continued support for early learning.