PANHANDLE PERSPECTIVES: Wellness is theme of Western Nebraska Early Childhood Conference Oct. 6 at Scottsbluff

Wellness is the theme of the 2018 Western Nebraska Early Childhood Conference, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 in Scottsbluff.

Keynote speakers in the morning and afternoon sessions will focus on family resilience and recovery in the face of crisis, as well as paying attention to the well-being of early childhood educators.

The conference is intended for child-care providers, teachers, and educators from child-care homes, child-care centers, preschools, and Head Start. It will take place from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Western Nebraska Community College Harms Advanced Technology Center in Scottsbluff.

Conference sponsors are Nebraska Extension, Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska, ESU 13 Head Start, Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services, Panhandle Early Learning Connection Partnership, Panhandle Family Daycare, Scottsbluff Public Schools, Twin Cities Early Childhood Center, and Western Nebraska Community College—Early Childhood       

Preregistration is required; no registrations will be accepted after Sept. 28. On-line registration and an informational brochure are available on the Scotts Bluff County Extension web site at (On-line registrants still need to mail payment.)   The early registration deadline is Sept. 24. The fee increases for registrations postmarked after this date. The conference fee includes registration, breaks, noon lunch, and workshop materials.
Attendees will earn contact hours to help meet licensing requirements. For more information or to receive a registration brochure, contact University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 632-1480.

In the morning keynote address, Jill Junck, northeast Nebraska wife and mother of five boys, will present “Junck Lemonade.” Junck will share her story of her family’s life-altering crisis, when her first-born son, Chase, was shaken while at childcare. She will talk about the day their life was forever changed, their road through Chase’s rehabilitation, coping through a few of their other family’s obstacles, and their faith and perseverance. Junck and her husband are raising their boys on her husband’s family farm. She is a nursing instructor at Northeast Community College (NECC) and is pursuing her MSN Educator degree. In 2008, their firstborn, Chase, and only child at the time, was the victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome at the age of 15 months. Chase suffered from a traumatic brain injury, losing nearly the entire right hemisphere of his brain. He not only survived, but went on to rehab and regained many of his abilities.

In the afternoon keynote, Holly Hatton-Bowers will present “Caring for the Caregiver: Promoting Wellbeing with Mindfulness.” The well-being of early childhood educators is increasingly recognized as being importantly connected to high quality education and care. Practicing mindfulness provides one way of promoting wellbeing. Mindfulness offers strategies for maintaining health, personal well-being, developing healthy self-regulation, and providing more responsive care to children. Hatton-Bowers is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies, and an Early Childhood Extension Specialist for the University of Nebraska. Her work focuses on identifying and implementing effective ways of promoting well-being among early childhood educators, families and children.

The early childhood conference will offer a number of concurrent sessions. Topics and presenters include:

      Be Cool, Keep Your Cool: In addition to her keynote talk, Jill Junck, will present this session about living healthy, making choices, and coping with stress.

      Come One Come All: Cora Hernandez of Community Action Partners of Western Nebraska Gering Head Start, will give some ideas and strategies on how to get kids to participate and have fun when they tend to not want to join in.

      Expert Panel: Moderator Sarah Ochoa-CAPWN Community Health Services Director, will moderate an expert panel to discuss all the different early childhood initiatives in the Panhandle: what each of these programs does, who the programs serve, and how to get involved. Panel members are Sarah Bernhardt (Healthy Families America), Kalyn Land (Rooted in Relationships), Katie Miller (NECPRS),  Renee Miller (Sixpence Child Care Partnerships), Cindy Molina (Step Up to Quality), and  Kelly Stratman (Sixpence Home Visiting)

      Making Mealtimes Pleasant and Enjoyable: Research consistently shows that Family Style Dining is excellent for both children and caregivers. Erin Kampbell, SNAP-Ed Nebraska Extension Assistant, will discuss what qualifies as Family Style Dining, why it is a best practice, and how accessible it really is.

      Never Shake a Baby – Preventing Abusive Head Trauma:  Brittain Trave, Early Development Network Services Coordinator for Scottsbluff School District, will discuss Safe With You, a training curriculum for child care providers to meet state requirements that require licensed child care providers to complete training that "shall be designed to meet the health, safety, and developmental needs of children…and shall include information on sudden infant death syndrome, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse and neglect."

      The Outdoor Classroom: “No Child Left Inside”: Jennifer Baumann, 2018 Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation Teacher of the Year winner, Nebraska Step Up to Quality Step 5 provider, board member of NFCCA, co-president of PACCS, will review outdoor play and how to bring the inside out. Participants will consider time, space and materials, and the roles early learning educators’ exhibit to encourage children to experience play in a meaningful way in all weather.

      Playing Yoga with Young Children: Holly Hatton-Bowers will discuss Yoga that integrates stories and rhymes along with movement shows promise for promoting the well-being of educators and
children. This session uses music, songs, stories, and short rhymes in combination with yoga to engage and teach young children. The benefits of yoga for promoting healthy self-regulation are also discussed.

      Temperament Traits: Donna Jenne, Educational Service Unit 13 Director of Head Start Programs, will discuss the importance of temperamental differences and understanding how they require different caregiving approaches to nurturing children’s healthy emotional growth.