The following was submitted by Carolyn Christmann and Allyx Schiavone:
Drumbeats echoed through the Quinnipiac River community as the Southern Connecticut State University drum line, Bluesteel, led hundreds of children, families and friends on a 1.5 mile stroll to support high-quality early childhood education on Saturday as part of the 7th annual Fair Haven Family Stroll and Festival.
The sky was cloudy, but spirits were bright as the “strollers” followed the river, crossing two historic bridges: the Ferry Street drawbridge and Grand Avenue Turnbridge.
Families from the community joined with families from Elm City Montessori and Friends Center for Children for a day of friends, fun and festivity — made possible by event sponsors: Friends Center for Children, United Way, Trust for Learning, Alfresco Landsape and Design, Brewery Square, Webster Bank, Carmody Torrace Sandak & Hennessey LLP, Tyco Printing, Eder Family Foundation, Elite Property Services, Inc., GHP, Parrett, Porto, Parese & Colwell, P.C., John’s Refuse, and T.M. Byxbee Company.
While smiles abounded, the Fair Haven Family Stroll and Festival is much more than just a walk in a park. “We are living through an important era in community empowerment and it is critical that communities, organizations, and individuals seize every opportunity to rally behind and support what we value,” said Genevive Walker, Director of Programs at ConnCAT and this year’s Festival Emcee. “I am particularly proud that Fair Haven Family Stroll is shining a light on inequities in access to high-quality early childhood education. Every parent wants this for their children, moreover the whole community benefits when there is equal access.”
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, head of the Baby Caucaus, shared her support for high quality early childhood education in New Haven.
Support of the stroll’s mission was also expressed by Senator Martin Looney (pictured above) and Senator Richard Blumenthal, who could not attend, but shared “Access to affordable, high-quality education for our youth is essential for building stronger families and communities. I applaud the Friends Center for Children, the Elm City Montessori School, and the Fair Haven community for raising awareness of the importance of
high-quality early education and making New Haven a better place to live, grow, and learn.”
Seven hundred and twenty-five people filled Quinnipiac River Park to enjoy the activities and resources presented by three dozen community organizations, including: Fair Haven Community Health Center, New Haven Public Library, Neighborhood Music School, Read to Grow, the Peabody Museum, and Chatham Square Neighborhood Association.
Bubbles, boat-making, book-giveaways, bracelet-making and face painting were just a few of the activities that kept the festival popping.
Featured entertainment included Magic with Amazing Andy, Cyril the Magician, the Wry Bred band, Zumba with Beyond FITness, Toddler Tunes with Robert Messore, and yoga with 108 Monkeys.
With live music, fun activities and valuable information, the Family Stroll “is a fantastic opportunity to engage our community in the overarching conversation about quality early childhood education in this country,” said Allyx Schiavone, Executive Director of the Friends Center for Children. “We know that high-quality early education programs have a high return on the investment, making it that much more important to educate our community to inspire a change nationwide.”
Eli Whitney Museum evoked New Haven’s maritime history by inviting children to build model sharpies, a long narrow flat-bottomed fishing boat claimed to have been built in Fair Haven in the mid 1800s.
Fittingly, the festival ended the way it began…with drumbeats! Drumming with Gammy kept the energy up to the very end, inviting aspiring drummers of all ages to keep the beat.