Brianna Stephens | May 26, 2023

Making an Early Impact

The launch of Christian Appalachian Project’s (CAP) mobile classroom, in partnership with Save the Children, is taking the organization’s Infant/Toddler services directly to homes in McCreary County. The initiative not only ensures children from birth to 3 years old receive critical developmental care but serves as a gateway to additional CAP programming to help meet the basic needs of families in the area.

“It has been documented through several studies that poverty is one of the leading risk factors for infants and toddlers,” said Lisa Meldrum, a CAP Infant/Toddler caseworker. “Typically, it doesn’t allow access to a lot of tools that children need to develop and explore the world. We can really make a difference by bringing those things directly to the home. So many things happen to a child’s brain and development in those years, birth through 3, that you can really affect a child’s life and can affect a family’s life.”

Through CAP’s Infant/Toddler services at Eagle Community Center in Parkers Lake, Meldrum offers screenings and personalized sessions to children to help them reach developmental milestones using tools like toys, manipulatives, and activities, which she models for parents to practice with their children. The mobile classroom now helps eliminate challenges families have faced when seeking Infant/Toddler services, such as a lack of transportation to Eagle Community Center or scheduling conflicts.

Marissa Slavey sometimes faced the challenge of transportation to the center for her 13-month-old son Sawyer’s sessions because her husband needs the family car to travel for work. With the mobile classroom, both Slavey and Sawyer can receive their sessions uninterrupted in the convenience of their driveway.

“I’m excited about him learning because it is so important,” said Slavey who moved to the area. “This is a very poor community, and from what I’ve seen there are not a lot of resources available for young children. The mobile classroom is a huge one. I want Sawyer to be as far ahead as he can be and the best person he can be, whether he’s the president or a laborer like his dad.”

While the progress of a child is important, Meldrum believes healthy children start with healthy families. In addition to her Infant/Toddler services, she offers maternal health screenings and resources through other CAP programs for families in need of other services.

“In order to make sure a child is developing on time and getting everything they need, we need to take away any stressors their family may be facing,” Meldrum said “We can set them up with CAP’s food pantry, home repair, counseling, provide resources for grandparents raising grandchildren, and offer essential items like diapers and wipes directly from the mobile classroom.”

McCreary County native Sarah Spradlin is excited to see a resource like the mobile classroom on the road to serve families and children like her 8-month-old daughter, Winnie. Before the mobile classroom was active, Spradlin and Winnie traveled to the Eagle Community Center campus every other week for their sessions.

“I think it will be very beneficial for the families that are interested in it, and I hope more become interested in it as they see that it’s a big help,” Spradlin said. “I think it’s good they are coming to your home and letting your kids play and interact while also helping you out as the parent. If I need something, I am pointed in the right direction for that service. Lisa is very knowledgeable in what she’s doing, and I think she’s a good fit to do one on one with children and families.”

For more information about the mobile classroom and Infant/Toddler services, call 606.376.3272.

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