TAMPA, Fla. — The Super Bowl LV Host Committee selected six pillars of the community to bring awareness to with the world’s eyes on Tampa Bay.
One of those pillars is early childhood education.
Aakash Patel, of the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County, knows how important every word, every sentence, every book is to a young child.
“The first 1,000 days of a child’s life, 90% of your brain is developed, so reading to children, have them repeat it back, it’s so crucial,” said Patel.
The Early Learning Coalition’s mission is to raise awareness and advocacy for pre-k educational programs.
“But now we have a bigger platform because of the national stage that we see this weekend,” said Patel. “What is going to happen is after the game goes away, the community is still going to be here, we are still going to talk about all the initiatives and the pillars they selected, and it’s going to open dialogue and awareness.”
The hope is more businesses take the host committee’s lead and invest in these programs.
“So as a business person, we talk about a return on investment, “said Patel. “A dollar invested in your child in early childhood education is an eight dollar return.”
Palma Ceia United Methodist Day School Director, Amanda Jae, said Florida needs to get more families on the same page when entering the public school system.
“The public school system for kindergarten, you have all these children that have varying abilities, some children come in never having held a book before, and some children are already reading,” said Jae. “The more pre-k programs we have in Hillsborough County, the stronger our early childhood children are going to be that feed into the future of our community.”
The long term goal is to take this momentum all the way to Tallahassee.
“We hope that early learning education will be a forefront of this year’s legislative session,” said Patel.