There’s almost nothing cuter than kids. Except maybe kids helping babies.
The preschoolers at Funny Farm Early Learning Center spend three weeks each year learning about what happens when babies are born too soon. Along with what they can do to help. They hold their very own March for Babies, get pledges and sell lemonade.
This year they raised nearly $3,000 to fund life-saving research that works toward finding the causes and solutions for premature birth and birth defects.
Amazing. Here’s what Director Marcy Wells tells us about this incredible learning process:
We’ve been running our Funny Farm lemonade stand and Funny Farm March-a-Thon for eight years now. We begin our curriculum at the beginning of April with a look at healthy babies and what needs a healthy baby has. They learn to change diapers, feed, dress, bathe, etc. Parents bring in baby photos and stories of the day they were born, which is always a hoot. We then shift the learning to looking at what happens when a baby is born too soon and what is different about what a baby that is born too soon needs vs. a healthy baby. Our Dramatic Play area is turned into our Funny Farm NICU complete with incubator, changing area, tiny baby beds, and all other necessary equipment to care for these tiny babies. Each preschooler-turned-doctor or nurse is taught to scrub in and put on scrubs, booties, gloves, and head cover prior to caring for any baby. Over the course of 3-4 days the premature babies begin arriving. The children are told that we’re helping the doctors at St. Vincent’s care for these tiny babies. We arrange this with the front desk who calls us 1-2 times a morning to let our doctors and nurses know that there’s been an arrival. A team of doctors and nurses suit up to go and receive the baby or babies (if it’s twins) and bring them back to the NICU. Some babies arrive with a health issue, such as a heart monitor or breathing apparatus, some are just tiny. The learning is magical and the empathy these kids gain as they learn to care for these tiny babies is hard to put into words. I think pictures say it much better.
Learning that even at such a young age there is a lot we can do to help the families that have babies born too soon comes the second week with our lemonade stand and the introduction of the March-a-Thon, which happens around the third week. The lemonade stand gives the children the opportunity to talk with the community center patrons about their efforts to help the babies born too soon. They make the lemonade and serve it with a smile. Those that stop by to support are always impressed with their passion to have everyone help. One of my favorite additions to our lemonade stand was having the kids paint signs saying, “Help the Babies” and “Buy cookies and lemonade.” Wearing their March of Dimes t-shirts they proudly march up and down the lobby shouting, “Help the babies! Buy cookies and lemonade!”
Our Funny Farm March-a-Thon is a pint-sized version of the March for Babies allowing the opportunity for our families to be involved in their child’s learning. We set up a course complete with fun check points along the way, such as bubbles, music, misting, etc. Prior to this event, children gather pledges from friends and families. This year I think we’ll have a record high as we’re right around $2,924 with a few more checks still to come!
Thank you Funny Farm Early Learning Center! And thanks to all those fabulous little children with big hearts for babies!