The most critical years of a child’s development occur between ages zero and five. That is the period where children’s social and emotional growth can indicate future success. However, there are zip codes in the City of Buffalo where that development has shown to be lacking.
As part of the Juneteenth Festival over the weekend, Say Yes Buffalo partnered with youth leadership group Breaking Barriers to pass out this information to young families. The ability to support young children has positive consequences.
“Children are more successful in school,” said Say Yes Early Childhood Supervisor Danielle Galenski. “And it increases their chance to graduate high school, college, get a professional job.”
Galenski has tracked areas on Buffalo’s East and West sides and the numbers show many kids are lacking in emotional and social development and that is leading to many of them falling in school.
“Our boys and girls are falling behind in schools at an earlier and earlier age,” said Breaking Barriers member Jordan Jackson. “And most of the child’s brain development occurs from when they’re born up to age five, so to help turn that around would most definitely be beneficial towards us.”
Jackson says that factors into a 2013 study on the reading comprehension levels of 3rd graders. Those who could not read at their grade level were less likely to graduate high school. Dropouts were also more likely to go to prison, reinforcing the school to prison trend. All of that, he says, contributes to the cycle of crime and poverty in certain Buffalo neighborhoods.
The St. Joseph’s graduate said working the festival is opportunity for community outreach.