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Deer Isle, Isle au Haut and Stonington, Maine.
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by Jessica Brophy
Ready by 21 will pilot a community playgroup to promote interaction for infants and toddlers and provide a chance for peer support for parents.
The 12-week trial run starts Thursday, January 3, according to Amy Vaughn, co-chairman of the Ready by 21 steering committee and pastor of the Deer Isle Congregational Church.
The playgroup, which is open to any child from birth to age five at no cost, will run on Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Deer Isle Congregational Church. Vaughn stressed that this is not a drop-off service, but rather a time for parents to bring children in to socialize with one another.
The playgroup will be coordinated by Lydia MacDonald. Eventually, said Vaughn, the playgroup will form the base for an early childhood family resource center, where childhood specialists and volunteers can visit to help families connect with available services and resources for young children.
“A lot of this will depend on what people are interested in seeing,” said Vaughn. The idea for the community-wide playgroup came from work the Ready by 21 group had done with young adults, some of whom have children.
“A lot of them said they would love to have a community-wide playgroup,” said Vaughn.
A playgroup used to run at the Deer Isle Congregational Church through the group Parents are Teachers Too, but when the group lost its funding a few years ago the playgroup stopped meeting. “But we still have all the toys and books,” said Vaughn.
Vaughn said a bulletin board will be available for parents at the playgroup to post messages or information to one another. “Say a parent is looking for a jogging stroller, or wants to know the names of some dependable babysitters,” said Vaughn.