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NEWS STORY

Pratt & Whitney Takes Part in United Way Year of Caring Early Childhood Education Event

Story and Photos by Barbara Bresnahan
HARTFORD, Conn. | Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A fun-filled morning of activities and entertainment were on tap for children and their families on Aug. 24 during a special event at Hartford's Bushnell Park. Called the "Making Early Learning Come Alive! Block Party," the festivities were but one of a number of United Way volunteer projects happening in Connecticut communities during the 2013 United Way Year of Caring series.

At the event, the United Way mobilized more than 20 Pratt & Whitney volunteers and several Jefferson Radiology volunteers to organize a variety of crafts and games that reinforce how learning "comes alive" in a playful and meaningful way.

While Pratt & Whitney Lead Technician Rhonda Leonard manned the volunteer registration table, other Pratt & Whitney employees and relatives offered their help at booths that included face painting, hula hooping and color-mixing experiments. Other tents held activities themed around Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards in physical health and development, social and emotional development, social studies, literacy, cognitive and general knowledge, mathematics, creative arts, science, language development and approaches to learning. Resource materials for parents were abundant, with organizations such as the Capitol Region Education Council, EASTCONN and Birth to Three on hand, to name a few.

During the block party, which ran from 9-11:30 a.m., families were also treated to juggling and stilt walking demonstrations, were able to handle live animals at the Curious Creatures booth, read books to dogs at the Tails of Joy booth, made musical instruments, played with Legos and other sensory activities and received free carousel rides.

The event was co-hosted by American Medical Response; the Children's LAW Center of Connecticut; the City of Hartford Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation; the Connecticut State Department of Education - the Governor's Early Childhood Education Cabinet; the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving - Kaplan Early Learning Company; the United Way of Connecticut; the Metropolitan District; the Office of Early Childhood; and the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund. Additional support came from many community providers and organizations throughout the state, including volunteer assistance from Pratt & Whitney.

Photo Captions

Photo 1: The "Making Early Learning Come Alive! Block Party" was held at Hartford's Bushnell Park on the morning of Aug. 24. The festivities were but one of a number of United Way volunteer projects happening in Connecticut communities during the 2013 United Way Year of Caring series.

Photo 2: Robert Bengtson, manager of engine performance, Pratt & Whitney, not only volunteered at the Face Painting Mama booth, but he also had his arm painted with the name of his favorite football team, the Patriots.

Photo 3: Arianna Harvey, who volunteered along with her grandparents Tom and Maureen Ward, both of Pratt & Whitney, was stationed at the Hartford Hoops tent, where she quickly mastered the art of hula hooping.

Photo 4: Ajay Phadke and Katie Fitton of Pratt & Whitney's Propulsion Systems Analysis group were stationed at the Matica juggling booth during the block party.

Photo 5: Monica Mohtasham of Pratt & Whitney volunteered at the Head Start and Early Care and Education booth, where she taught children how colors are created. Participants used water and markers in color mixing experiments.

Photo 6: The popular Face Painting Mama booth received volunteer help from (left to right) Alyssa Colbert of UTC, Peg Lesiak of the United Way, and Laura and Bob Bengtson, who volunteered for Pratt & Whitney.

Photo 7: Colorful science experiments took place at the Head Start and Early Care and Education tent, where Pratt & Whitney volunteers (from left to right) Raymond Ybarra, Anna Ybarra, Monica Mohtasham, Emily Montgomery and Sita Pokhrel spent the morning working.

Photo 8: Pratt & Whitney Lead Technician Rhonda Leonard (left) volunteered her Saturday morning to man the volunteer registration booth at the "Making Early Learning Come Alive! Block Party," which was held at Hartford's Bushnell Park on Aug. 24.