Columbia Cares for Kids discusses emotional health for children

Monday, January 24, 2011 | 2:54 p.m. CST; updated 3:00 p.m. CST, Monday, January 24, 2011

COLUMBIA – It’s not every day teachers and child advocates tell the community to put less emphasis on the academic needs of children.

That is the situation this week as local organizations hope to remind the community of the emotional needs of children as part of the “Week of the Emotionally Healthy Child.”

“Emotional health is the foundation for everything else,” Dr. Gerald Newmark, author of “How to Raise an Emotionally Healthy Child,” said Monday morning. “If we don’t have that, we have the world we live in now. You have conflict at every level.”

Newmark visited from California this week to take part in the events organized by Columbia Cares for Kids, a coalition of 15 local education and community groups. Activities began Monday morning with nearly 50 community members gathering at Field Elementary School for a proclamation from Mayor Bob McDavid recognizing the importance of emotional health.

“I think it’s the piece that’s missing,” Darin Pries, executive director of Central Missouri Community Action, said. “The principles are very basic. We want kids to feel respected, important, and secure. That’s not rocket science, but the problem is, all too often we forget to do those things.”

Through the week, teachers, parents, students and child care providers will be taking part in seminars on the importance of fostering emotional health for children and the community at large.

“We don’t know where we can go with this,” Pries said, “but we think that by raising awareness, that’s the first step in making a difference.”

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