Kids live (it up) and learn at Pajama Pizza Party

The ditty of years past that suggested ‘no more pencils, no more books’ over summer vacation breaks has become a thing of the past. Children today are encouraged to embrace all the fun and engaging summer learning opportunities available to them as a way to avoid the ‘summer slide,’ wherein students lose learning achievements made the prior school year.

To show children and families just how exciting learning can be, The Learning Alliance, in partnership with the Moonshot Community Action Network and the National Summer Learning Association, hosted its fifth annual Moonshot Moment Family Pajama Pizza Party last Thursday evening at the Heritage Center in Vero Beach. Similar parties, all geared toward children ages 4 to 12, were also held at Fellsmere Elementary School and the Sebastian Boys and Girls Club.

The event was one of hundreds taking place across the country in recognition of National Summer Learning Day. The idea, according to the NSLA, which aims to reach 2 million children nationwide, is to “promote awareness of the importance of keeping kids healthy and engaged during the summer.”

“All of our activities tonight are tied to social/emotional development and skill building,” said Marie O’Brien, TLA community outreach manager, watching as pajama-clad youngsters gathered around the various craft tables.

“This is such a great idea; it’s all good,” said Baerbel O’Haire, one of many Merrill Lynch employees who came to help out as event volunteers.

Many of the activities corresponded with the screening of a movie added this year – the animated Disney Pixar film “Inside Out,” about the voices in a little girl’s mind representing five emotions: joy, sadness, fear, anger and disgust.

Another craft – making paper plate ‘tambourines’ – was related to the NSLA National Read Aloud of the book “Trombone Shorty,” the inspirational illustrated story of New Orleans musician Troy Andrews.

Parents and children also enjoyed slices of delicious pizza before the little ones, clutching bags of aromatic popcorn, began to nestle on their pillows and blankets at the front of the room.

“We are so thankful for The Learning Alliance and we continue to make sure they know we appreciate their dedication to our students and our teachers and our families,” said School Board member Tiffany Justice to the gathered crowd, also thanking parents for being the No. 1 drivers of their children’s success in school. “And thank you to the Moonshot Moment, who recognizes that every moment is a chance to learn.”

Before the book reading and movie, Dorrian Bridges, youth pastor at Southside Christian Church, shared an encouraging poem he wrote about compassionate problem solving.

The Learning Alliance is part of the Indian River County Moonshot Community Action Network, comprised of the school district, businesses, nonprofits and residents, all working toward the Moonshot Moment goal of 90 percent literacy by third grade.

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Photos by: Denise Ritchie
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