Paladin strives to put kids on the path to success, and one of the best ways Paladin does this is through its early childhood development programs. On Friday, December 2, Paladin invited the community to its Imagination Station center for an open house so people could learn more about its programs and see for themselves how powerful innovative programming can be for children.
“We just want people to see all the great things that we’re doing here at Imagination Station. We have a very unique program here. Theresa has done an amazing job developing all of the sensory rooms, and we have some incredible teachers who are doing some amazing work within the classrooms. So, we’re excited to get people in to see what we’re doing,” said Steve Hobby, President, and CEO of Paladin.
All kinds of people came to see what Paladin’s early childhood programs are all about: families, childcare providers, local interventionists, you name it. Even Gene Simmons, Councilman of the Sixth Ward, was in attendance.
Simmons has a grandson going into first grade who was in a similar early childhood development program when he was little; Simmons explained how much the program has helped his grandson grow and how he’s already so much further ahead than some of the other kids in his class. So, when Simmons got the invitation to Paladin’s open house, he knew he had to check it out.
“I just wanted to come, take it all in, see what it’s about, and learn. It gives our young people such a big head start as far as entering regular school. I was at my grandson’s school a couple of weeks ago for grandparents day, and he just seemed like such a leader because of the development he had prior,” said Simmons.
Theresa Argueta, Director of Early Childhood Programs, explained how important early childhood programs are for children and how they can make a huge difference in a child’s life.
“70 years of early childhood education research and brain development research shows us that 80% of neural pathways are set before the age of six, so it’s critical that these kids are in high-quality early childhood settings. Research shows that when kids are in high-quality settings their outcomes for life increase, and when kids are in stressful, low-quality settings, their outcomes for life can decrease. So, we really prioritize social learning, emotional regulation, as well as foster an environment for high-quality interaction,” said Argueta.
To help fulfill these goals, Imagination Station takes a Reggio-Emilia approach, in which kids can construct their learning. The teachers project how a child is going to develop and help pave the road to get them there by allowing the child to engage in activities that interest them. This type of learning is very problem-solving-oriented and constantly challenges the kids to experiment and try new things.
This unique approach to learning isn’t the only thing that makes Imagination Station special. It also has all kinds of different spaces to help facilitate child growth. There's a large room called the Piazza designed to bring different kids together and engage with one another. There are calming spaces where kids are taught to engage in calming techniques to help sort through their emotions. There are also plenty of outdoor learning spaces. A community favorite was the shadow and lightroom where kids can experiment with shadow.
Argueta was grateful to have the opportunity to show the community that there are more positive and innovative ways to help set children up for success.
“I’m just really excited for people to see that things can be done better and that there are ways to do it so that it’s accessible for everyone. In a community where we have low literacy rates and low graduation rates, it’s important that we do something for the children when they’re young and help the parents advocate for their children because they deserve better,” said Argueta.
The open house was ultimately the perfect way for people to better understand Paladin’s early childhood programs. The Paladin team was thankful for everyone who came out and is excited to welcome more people in the future.
“We’re very happy about all the folks who showed up. We’re hoping to have more of these open houses in the future so that we can engage even more people and bring them in so they can see what we do,” said Hobby.
To learn more about Paladin and its mission to provide children with meaningful opportunities for growth, visit https://paladin.care/.