Merced County prepares activities for Week of the Young Child.

Antonio Bravo, 32, of Merced gives his son’s kite some extra help getting airborne Sunday in Livingston at last year’s Kite Festival. This year’s festival will take place Sunday at Livingston Middle School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. THADDEUS MILLER MERCED SUN-STAR FILE
Week of the Young Child, a nationwide observance meant to bring attention to the development of children and the needs of their families, is set to kick off Sunday.
This year, Week of the Young Child, headed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, will take place April 12-18. In Merced County, the week of activities will start with Livingston’s annual Kite Festival.
Stephanie Aguilar, a program specialist at First 5 Merced County, said the week celebrates all children, families and the education workforce. According to the NAEYC, children learn in a variety of ways. Play at a young age is important for promoting language, cognition and social competence.
Events and activities that promote play and education are scheduled throughout Merced County communities:
▪ The fourth annual Kite Festival will take place at Livingston Middle School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The event will feature kite-making workshops, building contests, face painting and crafts. The first 500 kids will receive a free kite.
▪ Game Day in the Park for Kiddies will also happen Sunday. Games, crafts and resource booths will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at El Capitan Park on Lobo Drive in Merced.
▪ The Strong from the Start Through Literacy story time event will start Monday and continue throughout the week at the ACCESS Center in Los Banos, 663 I St. Elected officials will read to children, and each child will walk away with a free book.
▪ Movie in the Park will take place in Houlihan Park in Planada, starting at 8:30 p.m. April 17. This year, organizers will screen “The Lego Movie.”
▪ The Children Expo and Fair, a children and family services resource fair, will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 18 at the George Washington Carver Center in Dos Palos.
▪ Week of the Young Child will close with the annual Day at the Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Applegate Park in Merced. The event will include games, a bubble art exhibition, healthy snacks and a soccer clinic.
All events are free and open to the public.
Aguilar explained that Merced County has been participating in the Week of the Young Child for more than a decade, and the event continues to grow each year. The largest activities, which are usually the Kite Festival and the Day at the Park, can gather up to 1,200 people, she said. No registration for the events is required.
For more information, call the First 5 Merced County office at (209) 385-7337 or the Merced County Office of Education at (209) 381-6600.
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