There are many community outreach programs in the greater Pottstown area that achieve success by touching the lives of others. But, it is rare you find a program that touches many lives at a very early age for whom successful outcomes can last a lifetime. That program is the Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness, or PEAK.
The PEAK initiative focuses on building partnerships with the early learning programs in the Pottstown community. The goals of PEAK are:
- Every three and four year old child has access to high-quality child care, early childhood education, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.
- Every parent of young children has access to the high-quality skill building and resources needed to prepare them to be their child's first "teacher," and to prepare their children for success in school.
- Every child has access to health and wellness services to ensure that they are prepared to maximize their potential in school.
Why coordinate an initiative that starts at such an early age? The PEAK managing partners determined that there was a lack of knowledge in the community concerning the importance of high-quality early learning experiences and limited information about the resources available to families and the importance of the family in the child's educational process.
“Providing a solid foundation that includes good nutrition and physical activity will lead to better learning,” says David Kraybill, President, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. PEAK, which is funded in part by the Pottstown Foundation, and its other community and funding partners, understands the need to have a strong focus on improving the health, nutrition, physical activity and safety of children. “We appreciate the partnership with the Foundation as we work together to create a comprehensive system to meet the needs of our young children and families,” comments Mary Rieck, PEAK Coordinator.
The other key is to get parents involved, especially in the classroom. Engaging parents in their child’s education and providing them the resources they need to help their child be successful is also a major part of what PEAK sets out to accomplish.
The PEAK program is making a difference just five years after its inception. “We impact more than 500 three- to four-year-olds in the Pottstown community each year,” says Rieck. “We are seeing that more children are entering Kindergarten more prepared, so they can be more successful.” This parent comment says it all, “My son attends the Pre-K Counts program and this is his first experience in school…. This program has allowed him to express his curiosity in learning. He is writing his name and learning to spell. For only being four, he impresses our family by showing us all how interested he is in school and how much information he is retaining. When I ask my son how school was today, he has so much to tell me. He tells me about his friends he has made and about his teachers…and activities from the day. I am so glad that I learned of [this] program. [Now my] my son will start his school career with a positive outlook…. It is truly a gift that there are programs out there that give funds for children’s education. As a single parent, knowing that my children are in a safe environment and filling their minds with new things lifts a great deal of weight off my shoulders. Many thanks to PEAK and most of all to the teachers who make it their lives to teach children.”