ASHLAND -- A number of Ashland County preschools have received mask kits for the children in their care.
Catholic Charities approached those schools currently receiving Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) consultation services to identify those that might need face coverings for their students. ECMH, a program delivered primarily by Catholic Charities to parents and to preschools, promotes healthy child development and builds resiliency.
The following schools expressed interest in receiving the kits:
The four Ashland County Head Start sites (Ashland Kroc, Ashland West, Sullivan and Loudonville), Park Street Preschool, The Training Center, Ashland/West Holmes Career Center Preschool, and Valley View Christian Preschool.
Since these sites encourage the children in their care to wear masks, helping the children understand how and why masks work, while becoming accustomed to wearing them, has been a priority for administrators and teachers.
The kits include stuffed animals wearing masks that match the children’s masks.
"Many children are keeping their animals with them and carrying them around,” said Donna Swartz, a teacher at Ashland Kroc. “I think the animals have helped to encourage the children to wear their masks. Both our staff and our students’ parents have been excited about the results."
Catholic Charities was able to provide the kits because of volunteer Trish Risser, a talented sewer who had been making masks for adults and then got inspired to make masks for young children. She made all of the masks and donated the stuffed animals as well. When asked about her efforts.
“I’m happy that children can see mask-wearing as not so scary or traumatic...maybe I learned how to sew for this very reason,” Risser said.