ONTARIO – Research shows that without interventions, children born into poverty who are likely to continue to live in poverty. The pattern is easy to understand. Someone who was raised with deficits isn’t likely to be able to provide a rich learning environment for his or her own children, so the cycle of adversity often continues when there are no interventions.
Enter Treasure Valley Children’s Relief Nursery, whose two-generational therapeutic early childhood education program is the only program in Malheur County providing therapeutic classrooms, parenting education services, and family support targeted at protecting young children at significant risk for abuse and neglect.
“The unique combination of services offered to a family enrolled in a Relief Nursery lifts and strengthens, erasing some of the risk factors and minimizing others while building in protective factors to counter the negative effects of trauma and toxic stress,” said Kathie Collins, TVCRN’s executive director. “It isn’t rocket science, but it is science; 90% of brain development occurs by age 6, so it’s imperative that a child whose brain is wiring while experiencing prolonged trauma has meaningful supports to keep it wiring with empathy and in preparation for academic learning in kindergarten.”
The impact TVCRN makes on children today saves taxpayers money later. University of Chicago economics professor James Heckman has said that, “the highest rate of return in early childhood development comes from investing as early as possible, with research showing that high-risk and low-income children reap the biggest benefits from enrollment in early education programs, which can significantly reduce disparities that typically develop later in life.”
Malheur County’s only child abuse prevention program has one of its key fundraisers in April – which is also Child Abuse Prevention Month. April 21 will mark the ninth annual Relief Run Color Blast, a 5K walk/jog/run event in which participants have powdered color tossed at them at several locations along the course. It’s also an opportunity to toss color at one’s friends, celebrate strong ties, and raise money for TVCRN
About 300 participants are expected to turn out for this year’s event which not only raises money for the general operations of the Relief Nursery, but also raises awareness about child abuse and neglect and the risk factors associated with maltreatment.
“This event isn’t for serious runners, but it is for those who are serious about impacting child abuse in our community,” said TVCRN Board Chair Cali Burzota, noting that of the 277 children TVCRN has served in its nearly nine years, 96 percent have remained free from abuse or neglect. “If at the end of the Run, you look a little like a painter’s palette, then you know you’ve had a good time – and done a good deed.”
Both individuals and teams planning to take part in the Color Blast may register now at bluecirclesports.com. Information about the event can be found on the Nursery’s website: tvcrn.org/colorblast. The early bird discount fee is $25 per individual and $75 for a team through April 2; $35 and $100, respectively, after that date. Participants also can purchase paint packets and sunglasses online as well as pre-pay for hamburger or hot dog meals following the Color Blast. Food is being prepared by Mackey’s Irish Steakhouse.
“This is a very fun event from about an hour before the Run begins until an hour or so after you come in,” said TVCRN Board Vice Chair Matt Berria, advising participants to arrive early to get their T-shirts and packets of color.
Collins added, “hanging out with friends, laughing and creating fun-filled memories is what early childhood should be all about, so the atmosphere at the Relief Run is another reminder of the work Relief Nurseries do so that little ones can have more joy and less stress in their lives.”
Snake River Pediatrics is the 2018 Relief Run’s title sponsor, with a $2,500 donation. TVCRN’s Board of Directors has secured nearly $20,000 in sponsorships this year, and hopes to raise another $6,000 through registrations by the time the start gun fires at 11 a.m. that Saturday.