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February 22, 2011 > Kidango receives major grants

Kidango receives major grants

Submitted By Shirley Ng

Kidango, a nonprofit child development agency with 41 centers in nine Bay Area cities, has received several grants which will allow its Ruschin Center in Newark to dramatically refurbish its existing outdoor learning and play areas for toddler/infant and preschool children.

Encouraging physical activity and exercise is essential, given the alarming rise in childhood obesity across the country, a condition which the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has likened to an epidemic. Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years in the United States.

"Physical education is an important component of Kidango's mission to develop healthy and well-rounded children," said Kidango Regional Director Kathy Rose. "We are thrilled and grateful for these funds to enhance the Ruschin Center outdoor learning and play area."

The grants include a $16,000 contribution from the City of Newark, $10,000 from the Tri-City fundraising organization Candle Lighters, and $5,000 from Head Start Body Start (HSBS), a national agency which promotes physical activity and outdoor play.

With its Candlelighter and HSBS grants, Kidango's Ruschin Center will install several new structures on its outdoor learning and play areas for the center's 134 toddlers/infants (0-2 years) and preschool (3-5 years) children. The City of Newark funds will enable the center to replace an older concrete portion of the toddler play area with new sod and a tricycle path.

The outdoor learning and play area is as important as indoor "Interest Areas" for promoting each child's whole development. Kidango believes that all children deserve the opportunity to learn and play outdoors on structures that are age and size appropriate and promote physical, social-emotional and cognitive development. The structures offer opportunities for children to develop gross and fine motor skills through physical activity, as well as develop socially and emotionally through collaborative play with their peers.

"The benefits of daily exercise are both psychological as well as physical, positively impacting self-esteem and self-confidence in children and promoting feelings of wellness," said Sue Story of Child, Family, and Community Services, on behalf of HSBS. "We are happy to support Kidango's mission in encouraging physical activity to young children."

Kidango has provided early care and education services to young children since 1979. Parents rely upon Kidango's quality affordable services so they can go to work or school. The children receive a quality education that enhances their development and prepares them for school and beyond. Currently, 90 percent of Ruschin Center's enrollees are from low-income families.

"Kidango addresses a great need for child development and early education to low- income and underprivileged young children," said Maria Garnica of Candle Lighters. "The value that this organization contributes to the community is immeasurable and we are delighted to be able to support Kidango's mission."

"The city of Newark always strives to recognize those organizations that provide important social services and Kidango has served the community's children well for over 30 years," said Terrence Grindall, Community Development Director for the City of Newark.

For more information on Kidango visit http://www.kidango.org/.

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