Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is pleased to announce the launch of our new website! 

The new website is interactive and gives better access to Health, Family, Education, Literacy, Community, Information & Documentation web pages. Users will find useful information about our programs and services on the homepage of our website.

Amongst the new features the site contains an integrated social media button for Facebook to foster improved communication with the community. There will be weekly updates of Early Childhood Education content including articles, events, blogs, newsletters and announcements.

We hope you enjoy the fresh new look of the website and find the  information easy to access.    For any questions, suggestions, feedback or comments, please contact  Cassandra Harris, Smart Start Public Education Manager at charris@smartstartofmeck.
Drinking water is essential to improving one's health. However, many people instead turn to higher-calorie beverages to quench their thirst. To address this issue, Mecklenburg County Public Health, Charlotte Water and Healthy Weight, Healthy Child are pleased to announce the I Heart Water Initiative. This Initiative is working to encourage residents - young and old - to adopt water as their go-to drink where they live, work and play.

As parents and caregivers of young children, you have the ability to influence children, about the AMAZING benefits drinking water has on the body. You can help children start a life-long habit of choosing healthy beverages by avoiding too many sugar sweetened beverages and drinking more water. A recent recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (2017) state kids under the age of 1 should avoid fruit juice, and older kids should drink it only sparingly.  This is linked to evidence suggesting juice consumption links to tooth decay and to gaining too much or too little weight.

Our partners at Charlotte Water work tirelessly to ensure that water flowing from the tap is free and clear of harmful chemicals and toxins. Per the 2015 Drinking Water Quality Report, Charlotte's water not only met but exceeded all state and federal drinking water standards; an incredible accomplishment!  So, the next time you need a drink of water, we encourage you to consider the good, old-fashioned tap.

Article Written by Allison Nelson, MS, RD, LDN, Supervisor, Mecklenburg County Public Health

The Importance of 
Fruits & Vegetables and Buying Local!
Fruits and vegetables benefit kids in many ways, including improved nutrition, decreased obesity risk and better school performance, but most children don't get the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Only 22 percent of toddlers and preschoolers and only 16 percent of kids ages 6 to 11 meet the government's recommendation, according to Ohio State research. One-half of children's mealtime plates should be filled with fruits and vegetables in order to reap the benefits.

Eating fruits and vegetables is necessary for proper health, but why is buying local so important? E ating local means more money stays within your community and every dollar spent generates twice as much income for the local economy.  L ocal produce is fresher and tastes better because it is usually sold within 24 hours of being picked. If you buy produce at a conventional grocery store, it may have been kept in storage for days or weeks.  Local produce has longer to ripen on the vine because it doesn't have to travel long distances, this gives you a tastier, vine-ripened product. E ating local reduces your carbon footprint. When your food doesn't travel long distances, you're promoting better air quality and reducing pollution.  Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons. Not everything is available all year round, meaning what grows is the most abundant, least expensive and at its peak. 

These are just a few examples of the importance of supporting your local farmer markets. 

Summer Water Safety Tips
We know water is everywhere.  Whether you're bathing your baby in the sink or splashing around with your toddler in a pool, water is great fun for kids. But it's also a place where safety must come first, so here are a few tips for kids who love to get wet.
Teach boundaries - Rather than just "don't go near the water," establish known reference points of what not to go past that is near the water, keeping kids away from danger entirely. It's a good idea to have a fence at least 4ft high around any pool you might have at home. But if you're somewhere that doesn't have that, decide on a point that's at LEAST 4ft away from the water, that the child shouldn't go past without an adult. Toddlers don't always respect boundaries, so clearly they'll have to be watched more closely. However, preschoolers and beyond should be able to recognize this type of rule and follow it (though definitely judge the situation based on your child's skill level).
Teach safety skills - As soon as you feel comfortable, start teaching safe behavior in the water. This goes beyond basic swimming lessons. It's teaching how to come back up to the surface if you are underwater, how to float and how to look for an exit. 
Teach awareness - Knowing what's around them and how it affects them is one of the best things you can teach your kids. Start early and point out important (and unimportant) things around the area-for instance, "Hey buddy, what's that?" "Water!" "What do we know about water?..." This can even start before your child can talk, as you see them noticing things with their curious eyes and exploring fingers. Point out what colors things are, what they do, and what they need to be careful of (and a simplified version of why, if you like). Even if you feel like you're repeating the same thing over and over, you're becoming their inner voice.

Stay close - Regardless of whatever else is going on, what friend is texting you or what cute pic of your little princess you just took and want to post on Instagram, always stay within arm's reach of your young child. Unplug a bit, absorb these moments with that little boy or girl who is only going to be little once. You may save their life by being there to grab them at a millisecond's notice. And it definitely doesn't hurt to spend that little bit more quality time together. Your child already equates you with safety, so take that a step further.

Another thing you can do to help your child be safe around the water this summer is to take a CPR class.   As we always hear, it's better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to safety risks and our prized possessions-our children.

The Communities in Schools, Safe Journey program provides case management, and educational support using the Parents as Teachers Program (PAT) curriculum. This program is offered to adolescent parents, including program graduates receiving Safe Journey Scholarships, who are continuing their education. Services include: group meetings, home visits, leadership training and events to promote community involvement.

Below is a picture of the 2017 Safe Journey graduates!  These young mothers have beat the odds and will continue to do great things!  This year  Safe Journey /APP had a 1 00% successful graduation completion rate!  

A BIG Congratulations to Judy Sanders-Bull and her team for their dedication to these young mothers and their education!  

Safe Journey's Parents as Teachers
Communities In Schools
601 E. 5th St., Suite 300
Charlotte, NC 28202

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County administers approximately $13 million a year in state and private funds to programs serving children  birth to age five, their fami lies, and their caregivers in Mecklenburg County. 
Thank You!

Thank you for all you do to Ensure that All Children in Mecklenburg County Enter School Healthy and Ready to Succeed!