The Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) at the UM-Flint brought the community together for a second time on Jan. 28 for their Light Up the Night event. The event was held in the Farmers’ Market’s community room from 5-8 p.m.
The event was open to all community members, and families with children of all ages were encouraged to participate, at no cost. Specifically directed towards children, the event was organized to create a like-minded surrounding that fostered creativity and reasoning.
The educational system at ECDC is inspired by the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, originally developed in Italy.
“We very much believe in child-centered, hands-on activities. Creativity is a huge part of it. We, as teachers and researchers, believe in working alongside the children, and want to know what they know and are interested in,” said Della Becker-Cornell, Director of ECDC.
ECDC Assistant Director, Joslyn Marinelli, based this idea off of a similar event organized by Bambini Creativi, a child development center in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I wanted a free community event that is open to everyone and showcases what we do in our classrooms each day,” said Marinelli.
Activities included glowing textures, neon Jewelry making, ring toss, light maze, toddler ball pit, building with light and block play, make your own glow putty, glow in the dark chalk, glow bubbles, neon wind tunnel, and face painting. The community room at the Farmers’ market was dark with the only source of light being all of the glow-in the dark, neon objects, the idea behind this being that children actually play in the dark and not be afraid of if.
Dr. Robert Barnett, Dean of SEHS, Dr. Aviva Dorfman, Associate Professor in Early Childhood Education, and Dr. Christine Kenney, Assistant Professor in Early Childhood Education all came out to the event, and even helped with setting up.
“We (ECDC) have so much support from them with everything we do,” said Marinelli. Even Chancellor Borrego was at the event with her family, and appreciated it.
The Farmers’ Market served as a great venue because it encouraged more of the community to come out. With roughly 800 people attending, the participation this year was nearly double that of last year’s. While many from within the ECDC community attended, they seemed to have been outnumbered by the community.
“I think it was a really good experience for my son. He is 4 years old. He is an only child, so it is nice for him to be able to come to community events like this. It was safe, and well done, and I’m glad they had it,” said Rose Ison, a community member from Owosso.
Italian themed food was served with all the bread and sea salt butter donated by Crust Bakery. The department had a lot of support from sponsors and volunteers, including UM-Flint School of Education and Human Services, Early Childhood Education club, Tom Tom Photo booth, Crust Bakery, Genesee County Parks, Flint Farmer’s Market, Taylor Hurley Photography, and Whimsicality.