BIG CYPRESS — Oozing with cuteness, hundreds of preschoolers from Big Cypress, Brighton, Immokalee and Hollywood gathered together to celebrate the Week of the Young Child at a carnival just for them April 12 in Big Cypress.

Indigo Jumper and Bibi Osceola enjoy some cold, sweet shaved ice from the Snow Kone Factory booth. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Paisley Doctor sits patiently as she gets her face painted with swirls of color. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

The youngsters were kept busy and happy in bounce houses, ball pits, a petting zoo, playing carnival games and being dazzled by a clown as their teachers and parents tried to keep up with them.

The Week of the Young Child emphasizes the importance early childhood programs have on children’s lives. Founded in 1971, the annual event is sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

“The focus of the Week of the Young Child is to remind everyone that the first 1,000 days of life are so important,” said BC Preschool Center Manager Andrea Jumper. “Preschool creates sensory rich activities that develop social, emotional, cognitive and language skills. It looks like fun, but it all has a purpose.”

In addition to the carnival games and bounce houses, Tribal departments set up activities and shared information under the chickees on the Junior Cypress Rodeo grounds.

“I want families to know they aren’t alone in raising their children,” Jumper said. “These departments are their support system.”

This was the first time preschools tribal wide joined together for an activity, but it likely won’t be the last.

“The Tribe always likes to do activities for all age groups,” said Executive Director of Administration Lee Zepeda. “The departments all wanted to be a part of it and everyone stepped up. We want to continue this going forward.”

Mama Clown entertains the kids with magic. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Khiyan Hodge brushes a baby pig in the petting zoo. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
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