By Hayley Crandall
Next Door is kicking off its Virtual Walk for Children. It will begin Saturday, May 22 and continue through Friday, May 28. The annual event aims to raise awareness and funds for their early childhood education programs.
Next Door’s efforts help Milwaukee families and their young children with various aspects of schooling. Assistance also works to develop students’ key life skills, Chad Piechocki, the development director, explained.
“All of our work is meant to really prepare children and their families for success in school,” Piechocki said. “Focus on education is the primary thing we do but we also work with children on developing emotional and social skills as well as working on their physical skills. At that age, fine motor skills and other skills like that are really important.”
Registration for the walk is free and participants have the option to raise funds, Riley St. Claire, the development coordinator, explained. The walk accepts both individuals and organized teams.
Individuals can choose how they participate since the ‘walk’ isn’t just for walking. Participation can be done by running or bike riding just as long as miles are tracked either manually online or through the Strava app, St. Claire said.
“They can do it any place they like over a period of eight days,” she said. “And we’ve included a weekend this year so that people have a little bit more flexibility.”
While the walk does highlight the fundraising aspect, there is hope that through the event, Next Door is able to highlight its work in early childhood education for the community, St. Claire explained.
Piechocki noted that this event has taken on some newer focuses as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected education at even the youngest of levels.
“It really has impacted our children’s learning because a high school student can probably more easily navigate virtual learning than a two-year-old,” said Piechocki. “This is helping us raise some funds and some awareness for that sort of situation our families are in and how it has impacted early childhood learning.”
Walk for Children concludes Friday, May 28 with a virtual celebration. Some items on the agenda include a book reading, children’s yoga and a video presentation, St. Claire said.
Registration for the Virtual Walk for Children is open until the final day.
Further information and links for registration or donating can be found at https://www.nextdoormke.org/walkforchildren2021.