Office for Children Wins National Awards

SACC goes green with Gunstonart guideGirl paintingNACo award

The Office for Children has been honored with two National Association of Counties awards. The first is for the “Go Green With Gunston” project, and the second is for the “Early Learning Through the Visual Arts” resource guide.

“I’m very pleased that the innovative projects our staff have created have been recognized at a national level,” said OFC Director Anne-Marie Twohie, noting that the “Early Learning Through the Visual Arts” project has also been recognized with an award of excellence from the National School Public Relations Association.

Go Green With Gunston
The “Go Green With Gunston” project, launched last October, is a partnership between OFC and George Mason University. The program teaches fun lessons about the Earth and energy conservation to K-3rd graders in the School Age Child Care program.

The project involved two actor/educators who visited a different SACC center each Monday during the school year. One of the actors wore a mascot-like costume and was called “Gunston.” Gunston and its human partner engaged children in songs, activities and games about “going green” and using the Earth’s resources wisely.

Before the actor/educators visited each SACC center, children participated in “going green” activities offered by SACC teachers. The activities helped children learn how energy is used and how it can be saved. Children were also invited to visit the Go Green With Gunston website, which reinforces the lessons taught in the program.

Early Learning Through the Visual Arts
Preschool teachers and staff from child care centers worked together for nearly two years with OFC, Fairfax Futures and Fairfax County Public Schools to develop “Early Learning Through the Visual Arts,” a community resource for using the visual arts to help children learn concepts related to math, science, language, literacy and social studies.

This resource features prints of world-renowned artwork, and outlines hands-on activities related to the artwork that adults can do with children to help them understand the world we live in. The guide also includes discussion questions, vocabulary words, titles of related books, and tips on visiting museums with children.

The learning experiences outlined in the guide engage children intellectually, socially and physically. The activities are aligned with the FCPS Program of Studies.

Although the activities in the guide are based on art in the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery and the Phillips Collection, the activities can be adapted to exhibits in local arts venues across the U.S.

“Early Learning Through the Visual Arts” is a model initiative that, if replicated by other counties and cities that learn about it through NACo, will result in more children who are better-equipped to succeed in school. Communities that replicate “Early Learning Through the Visual Arts” will also benefit from bringing together local businesses, schools, government agencies, child care programs, parents and art organizations to support children’s future success.

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