Monday, December 2, 2013

Importance of Car Seat Safety Stressed

Child car seat safety is important to most parents but to Daniel and Kristen Icard it is doubly important.  As the parents of two young children they want their children to be safe at all times while riding in the car.

When Kristen was pregnant with her first child she bought the best and safest seat but recognized that the seat was only safe if it was properly installed.  Kristen visited the Alexander County Partnership for Children for a car seat inspection.  As a United Way of Alexander County funded agency, the Partnership for Children serves as a car seat inspection site.  Studies have shown that over 70% of child car seats are installed improperly. 

When Kristen was pregnant with her second child she knew that a properly installed car seat was important in preparation for bringing home her son from the hospital.  A few weeks before the baby was due she made an appointment and stopped in to insure the car seat was installed properly.  A certified car seat technician made some minor adjustments and Kristen rested easy knowing that her newborn would be riding safely.   When asked about the car seat inspection program at the Partnership for Children Kristen quickly responded, “I can definitely say that I would be lost without this service. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person however, car seat installation baffles me! My husband and I both are afraid that we would do it incorrectly. When it comes to the safety of your kids, you want everything to be perfect. We didn't want to take the chance of installing the car seat improperly... So we took them to the experts. There is definitely a sense of comfort and security knowing that your children are safe in their car seats! I insisted that any family member that transported my children to have their car seat installed or checked at the Partnership. I'm very thankful that we have this service in Alexander County!”

Many times car seat inspections become a family event at the Partnership for Children.  Parents come in and have a car seat inspected and then the grandparents will come in.  Joe and Renee Williams, grandparents, expressed appreciation for the service.   Kristen’s mom, Renee Williams, also stops by and has her car seat inspected periodically.  She explained, “My daughter Kristen and son-in-law Daniel insisted that we go to the Partnership to have the car seat installed. When it comes to the safety of the grandchildren, there is no reason not to go to the Partnership! They are the experts!”

Children riding safely is important to the Alexander County Partnership for Children, an agency passionate about inspecting as many car seats as possible to ensure that children are safe and adequately protected while traveling on the roads and highways.  The goal of the Partnership for Children car seat program is to increase parent education while emphasizing the importance of inspections by offering on-site clinics at child care facilities and participating in community awareness events to reach out to the citizens of Alexander County.  If seats are found to be improper they are replaced through United Way funding.  The car seat inspection and replacement program is a free service to Alexander County residents.

Susan Cogdill, Executive Director of the Alexander County Partnership for Children, expressed her appreciation to the United Way of Alexander County.  “Without United Way funding our agency would simply not be able to offer this valuable service to the citizens of Alexander County.  Like many nonprofits in Alexander and across North Carolina, our agency has suffered budget cuts that limit our ability to provide necessary services.  With United Way funding the Partnership for Children continues to ensure that children are riding safely.”

Get Up Get Moving Was Successful!!!!


The Get Up Get Moving campaign, offered by the Alexander County Partnership for Children and funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, has ended with Millersville Child Development Center claiming the title of most steps walked during the campaign.  Millersville Child Development Center was also the winner of the October challenge recording 2.7 million steps.  A total of 17,328,122 steps were recorded by the staff participating at Millersville CDC during the six month Get Up Get Moving campaign.

Debbie Morgan was the individual overall winner walking the most steps of any child care provider in Alexander County, 2,151,144  steps.  Coming in second was Shirley Hickerson with 1,953,608 steps.  Debbie and Shirley are mother and daughter who constantly motivated each other.  They would check each other’s pedometer throughout the day to see who was the most active.  They would even call each other in the evening to check on their pedometer step counts.  Both Debbie and Shirley are employed by Millersville Child Development Center.  Debbie was the overall winner for the month of October with   steps.

Other winners recognized for most steps at their center included Dara Grinton from LuLus Child Enrichment Center with 1,509,932  steps and Rita Parson from First Baptist Child Development Center with 642,992  steps.  LuLus CDC was the second place winner with 11,996,578 steps recorded for the campaign.

The Get Up Get Moving six month campaign began in May and ended in October.  Over 41 million steps were recorded by participants using pedometers that recorded each step that participants took.  Each month individuals reported their total steps to their employer and the child care center reported total monthly steps.  This campaign was designed to encourage movement and activity within the child care center.

During evaluations, participants reported feeling better, reducing stress, and losing weight.  Most participants indicated they will continue wearing the pedometer to record steps to ensure a higher level of activity.

Susan Cogdill, Executive Director of the Alexander County Partnership for Children, spoke on the benefits of the Get Up Get Moving campaign.  “The Partnership for Children was honored to be chosen to receive funding from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.  Child care teachers are influential in the physical activity of young children.  Movement throughout the entire day while caring for young children is not only a necessity but a requirement to maintain a successful classroom environment.  Preschool children begin learning about the importance of physical activity in the classroom through their role model, the classroom teacher.  Get Up Get Moving has allowed over 72 teachers and assistants to recognize and value movement throughout the day.”

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Learn About FXS

The most common cause of inherited intellectual disability is Fragile X syndrome (FXS).  It is estimated that about 1 in 4,000 males and 1 in 6,000 to 8,000 females are born with FXS.  FXS occurs in all racial and ethnic groups.

Some of the signs of FXS include developmental delays.  Examples include not talking, walking, and/or sitting at the same time as children of the same age.  Another sign could include learning disabilities such as trouble learning new skills.  FXS signs include social and behavioral problems that are exhibited in not making eye contact, trouble paying attention, acting and speaking without thinking, frequent tantrums, and hand flapping.  Children with FXS can also have anxiety and mood problems and be sensitive to light and touch.

Males who have FXS usually have some degree of intellectual disability that can range from mild to severe. Females with FXS can have normal intelligence.  Only about one-third to one-half of affected females has some degree of intellectual disability.

Physical signs of an individual with FXS, that are subtle that become more obvious with age, are long, narrow face, large ears, large head, overly flexible joints (especially the fingers), and prominent forehead and chin.   Girls with FXS generally have fewer physical signs of the condition than males.
A diagnosis of FXS is confirmed through testing a person's DNA by a blood test.  This test is ordered by a doctor or genetic counselor.  The blood sample is sent to a laboratory and checked to determine if there is a gene mutation (change).   Around 35 to 37 months (three years of age) boys are diagnosed.  Girls are diagnosed later at forty-one months.

A diagnosis of FXS helps the family understand the reason for a child’s intellectual disability and behavior problems.  An early diagnosis also helps the family learn more ways  to help the child reach his or her full potential. 

Most children with FXS have a normal life span and do not have serious medical problems.  Five percent of girls and fifteen percent of boys affected by FXS develop seizures, that are most often are controlled through medication.  The risk for chronic inner ear infections is increased in children with FXS and may increase the need to have tubes placed in their ears.

A child with FXS may have mitral valve prolapsed, a heart condition, that causes heart murmurs.  In most cases this is not life-threatening and does not require treatment.

While there is no cure for FXS there are treatment services that help with learning skills such as learning to walk, talk and interact with others.  Medicine can be used to control behavior problems.  Early intervention services (birth to age three) may help improve a child’s development.  Through the local Children’s Developmental Services Agency a child can be evaluated and receive treatment.  A treatment plan that involves parents, child, teachers, and health care providers allows everyone to work together to help guide the success of the child with FXS.
For more information on FXS contact your physician.  Additional information is available online at the National Fragile X Foundation- .

Photo Courtesy of Free Digital Photo + Net

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Autism 101 Community Education Event Scheduled

A community education event is scheduled on Thursday, October 17, 2013, 5:30pm at Alexander County Head Start,  5860 Hwy 64/90 West, Taylorsville.  This event will provide information on Autism 101-The Facts.  Dinner will be provided.  Child care is available by reserving a spot-call 828-632-3799.

One of the complex group of disorders of brain development is termed Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism.  Characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors, autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 88 American children as on the autism spectrum–a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years. This increase can partly be explained with the increased awareness and improved diagnosis. Studies have also shown that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls.

Some of the common signs of autism include impaired social interaction.  Even in early infancy a baby with ASD may not respond to people or focus on only one item for long periods of time.  A child with ASD might appear normal and then withdraw in a social setting.  Often children with ASD do not respond to their name and avoid eye contact with others.  The child may not understand social clues, like facial expression or tone of voice in others. 

The child with ASD may have repetitive movements such as rocking back and forth or in self-abusive behavior, head-banging or biting.   Speech may be delayed.  Children do not know how to play with other children.  Some children speak in a sing-song voice and talk about a narrow range of favorite topics.

Additional signs may include difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances.  The most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age.  Outcomes for children with ASD are improved through early intervention with proven behavioral therapies.  A psychologist or psychiatrist evaluates individuals for Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If you have concerns about your child, talk with your child’s physician.  A website with information on Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder is .  Autism Speaks is dedicated to improving the lives of persons with autism and their families.

Partnership Receives IMPACT NC Grant!

Alexander County Partnership for Children was recently awarded funding from IMPACT NC for “Disability Aware”, a community focused program designed to promote early education of disabilities.  Over 1,000 families of children in Alexander County will be reached through events at child care centers and other venues for families of young children. The program will increase awareness of disabilities as a way for families to secure early intervention services prior to kindergarten. Studies have shown that early intervention services have significant impact in assuring success of child upon entering kindergarten.

 Autism 101-The Facts will be the first community education event will be held on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at Alexander County Head Start and is open to parents and caregivers of all Alexander County children.  Dinner will be served at 5:30pm and child care will be available for all children.  Please call the Partnership for Children at 828-632-3799 to request child care. 

In addition a parent/caregiver group is available for parents and caregivers of all children. This group meets weekly on Thursdays from 10am to 11:30am at the Partnership for Children.   A child’s program is available while parent and caregivers meet.  Call the Partnership for Children at 828-632-3799 to learn more about this group.