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Step Forward to host "Friendship through Reading Fall Festival"

Step Forward will host its annual “Friendship Through Reading Fall Festival” at Luke Easter Park Friday, October 7th.

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The event will relaunch the agency’s nationally-recognized “Friendship Through Reading” partnership with Cleveland Police. The program was established in 2016 as a way for Cleveland Police to build a stronger, more positive relationship with children and families in the community. For years, Cleveland police officers visited Head Start classrooms to read to students and answer questions about being in law enforcement. However, the program paused amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“We are ready to bring back the Friendship Through Reading program in our centers,” Dr. Thea Wilson, Step Forward’s Vice President of Children and Families, explained. “We know books and literacy play an important role in a child’s development, and this allows our young students the chance to have a meaningful interaction with our local law enforcement in a positive atmosphere. The kids love it and the officers love it, too.”

There will be family-friendly activities such as reading stations, games, face painting and a petting zoo. Children can visit with some of their favorite characters, like those from Paw Patrol.

And, for the first time ever, Step Forward will open the Fall Festival to the public. Community partners including the Kids Book Bank, Cleveland Clinic, Literacy Cooperative, Project Saves and the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes plan to attend.

“This year, we look forward to using the Fall Festival as an opportunity for Step Forward to showcase the critical services our agency provides to low-income families in Cuyahoga County,” Wilson added. “It’s a chance to share the many resources that are available to help with both short and long-term needs.”

Step Forward will also take this opportunity to recruit new staff. Head Start is working diligently to fill about 100 positions, 86 of which are in the classroom. Interested candidates can speak with Human Resources, get more information about the application process and could meet their potential coworkers.

The Friendship Through Reading Fall Festival will run 10am until 2pm. There will not be any classes for Early Head Start or Head Start students that day.

Those interested in attending are welcome to bring strollers, blankets and chairs as there is limited seating. Outside food and drink are welcome. Alcohol is prohibited.

Parking is restricted in the Zelma George Recreation Center lot and therefore drivers are encouraged to park on side streets surrounding the park instead.

If you would like to enroll your child for Early Head Start or Head Start, click here.

If you are interested in applying to Step Forward, join our team here.

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