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Countdown to Kindergarten comes to MLK Jr. Park Friday

Children at Healthy Baby Network's Countdown to Kindergarten event in 2016.

Children at Healthy Baby Network’s Countdown to Kindergarten event in 2016.

With a belief that every child should reach their first day of school, the Healthy Baby Network will host Countdown to Kindergarten 2022 on Friday, Aug. 18. The event, located at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lodge at Manhattan Square Park, will feature a host of family-friendly activities, music, food and education on playing your part to keep children healthy.

Sponsored in association with the City of Rochester, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, MVP Healthcare, YourCare Health Plan, Smola Consulting and UnitedHealthCare, the event sets a goal of assuring that every child born in 2017 makes it to their first day of kindergarten. Communications Director for the Healthy Baby Network Deanna Spiotta said that attendees will be educated on resources including FoodLink, SNAP, WIC and other programs which can ease the health risks for infants.

Founded in 1996, the Healthy Baby Network is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving infant and maternal health and breaking systemic barriers through outreach, education, case management and research.

Among these systemic barriers, the two most common factors in infant mortality stem from poverty and racial disparities.

“One of the most shocking disparities you see is with race,” Spiotta said. “African-American children are about four times more likely to die before the age of one than white children.”

This idea is corroborated by a 2014 report from ACT Rochester, which determined that, in that year, African-American infants under the age of one had a mortality rate of 10 per 1,000 live births. Comparably, Hispanic children stood at 4.2 and white children at 3.6.

“C2K is an opportunity for everyone in our community to be a part of ending infant mortality,” said Healthy Baby Network Executive Director Lauren Deutsch, in a release. “Poverty, racial health disparities, and poor access to care put some families at greater risk than others—but that doesn’t have to be the story. Each and every one of us can take the pledge to make sure every baby born this year makes it to kindergarten in 2022.”

Along with the educational aspects of the event, Countdown to Kindergarten will include face painting, canvas painting, free passes to the Strong National Museum of Play for the first 50 attendees and free backpacks and crayons for all children in attendance.

Beginning at noon on Friday, the free event will run until 3 p.m.

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