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Public forum to examine local resources supporting children

Craig Chamberlain, News Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Is the Champaign-Urbana community all that it can be for raising children and fostering their growth and education?

That will be the question for discussion at a public forum Nov. 5 in the auditorium of the Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign.

The program for the event, titled “Healthy Communities for Child Development and Learning,” will run from 9 a.m. to noon, with about half of the time devoted to presentations and about half to a town hall-style discussion. A continental breakfast will be offered at 8:30 a.m.

Parents, teachers and anyone interested in the resources and environment available for children in Champaign and Urbana are invited to attend.

“We feel there should be a discussion that says ‘Here’s where we are as a community in terms of what’s available, here’s where we’d like to be, and then here’s what it would take to get there,’ ” said William Trent, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Trent is the chair of a committee planning the event, the first of four Saturday morning forums planned for this academic year. The forums are sponsored by the university’s College of Education, and organized by the university’s chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, a professional association for educators.

The forum program will include a presentation of the findings from the 2004 Community Report Card of Project 18, a local consortium of community leaders and citizens working on issues related to children. The report card draws on various data to outline the physical, social, educational and economic status of children in Champaign County.

Reed Larson, Geraldine Peeples and Gary Laumann, all from the university’s department of human and community development, and Jesse “Tony” Clements, director of the university’s Division of Campus Recreation, will talk about the resources that support local children.

In the town hall-style discussion that will follow, participants will be free to ask questions. Trent said that organizers were hoping for participants from local government, schools, health and social service agencies, and community organizations.

Those attending should go home with a better understanding of what is available and what is lacking in the resources for children in the Champaign-Urbana community, and be more aware of the people concerned about those issues, Trent said. “If nothing else, we hope it will start a few new conversations,” he said.

The future Phi Delta Kappa forums, all on Saturdays:

Jan. 28 – “Making ‘No Child Left Behind’ Workable for
Parents, Children, Schools and Communities”

Feb. 25 – “Early Childhood Education in Illinois: At the Crossroads”

April 1 – “The Transition Into Adulthood”