Health Care, Higher Education, and Nonprofits

Nonprofit producing Ready by 5 Conference downtown

April 23, 2018
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Renee Boynton-Jarret
Renee Boynton-Jarret. Courtesy First Steps Kent

A new conference on early childhood learning and health is coming downtown this week.

First Steps Kent’s inaugural Kent County Ready By 5 Conference is set for 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday at the Grand Valley State University Eberhard Center in Grand Rapids, at 301 Fulton St. W.

The conference will include presentations, panel discussions and breakout sessions meant to “inform, equip and inspire the community to close gaps in early childhood learning and health.”

The panel will feature national experts from King County, Washington and Los Angeles, two communities that have dedicated funding to support early childhood in their communities.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett, an early childhood health expert and practicing primary care pediatrician at Boston Medical Center. Boynton-Jarrett is a social epidemiologist and the founding director of the Vital Village Community Engagement Network, a Boston-based organization committed to maximizing child, family and community well-being. She is also an associate professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine.

In 2015, Boynton-Jarrett received the Paul Revere Award from the Massachusetts Public Health Association for outstanding impact on public health. She was featured in the “Signature Hour” of “The Raising of America” documentary series.

“Investing in children early pays off for our entire community, which is why First Steps Kent is bringing the West Michigan community together for a day of learning and discussions about the importance of early childhood health and development,” said Annemarie Valdez, CEO, First Steps Kent.

“It’s our mission to make sure every Kent County child enters kindergarten healthy and ready to succeed, and we’re looking forward to learning from Dr. Boynton-Jarrett on ways we can support children and their families in their earliest years. We encourage anyone who plays a role in early childhood development to attend Ready by 5.”

People can register for the entire conference or individual sessions.

Full-day registration costs $45. Individual sessions cost $20-$25.

People can view the conference schedule and register online.

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