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Released May 17, 2005

"SATURDAY IN THE PARK" FOCUSES
ON EARLY LITERACY FUN THROUGH READING, PLAY

HATTIESBURG -The Hattiesburg Mayor’s Council for Early Learning Opportunities and The University of Southern Mississippi’s Project SEED are hosting “Saturday in the Park” on May 21 at Vernon Dahmer Park in Hattiesburg. The purpose of the event, which will last between 9 - 11 a.m., is to promote early literacy opportunities for children. Activities will focus on favorite children’s stories and will include events such as a demonstration by the Sweet Pilgrim Puppet Ministries and a special reading by Mayor DuPree.

"I try to never miss an opportunity to read to children,” DuPree said. “Not only do I love to see their faces as they wait eagerly to hear where the story will take them, but also I know it may help instill in them a lifelong love for reading. Reading is an essential building block for success in life and starting a child down that path as early as possible is critical."

The message of Project SEED is that early literacy is more than reading and writing; it starts from birth and involves play and interactions within a child’s natural environments. Project SEED’s goal is to support and enhance school readiness in all children.

According to IDS Director Dr. Jane Siders, “Saturday in the Park” is a way to introduce parents to the importance of literacy in the life of their young child. “Parents will have the opportunity to review books that young children love and to take home ideas for instilling a love of reading that will last a lifetime,” Siders said. “Project staff member Elizabeth Beavers has planned a day full of learning fun and surprises.”

This will be a great opportunity for children and their parents to have fun learning and playing together. The event is open to the community, and all children who attend will leave with a book and the memory of a fun experience. Project SEED and Mayor DuPree hope to see you Saturday, May 21, in the park!

To learn more about Project SEED, visit www.usm.edu/ids or call (601) 266-5163. Project SEED is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children and Families.

Dahmer Park is located at 1000 Country Club Road. For more information, call Charles Hughes at (601) 266-6037.

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July 20, 2005 4:00 PM