Tag Archives: Shannon Banks

ReadySteps from ReadyKids, An Important Partner at Friendship Court and Beyond

Piedmont Housing Alliance partners with several area nonprofits to bring enriching support to our client families. ReadyKids is one of those partners, providing services to children who live in Piedmont Housing Alliance supported housing, such as Friendship Court. We asked Shannon Banks, program manager for ReadySteps to share information with us about the program, and what ReadyKids provides the children at Friendship Court.

The ReadySteps Program at ReadyKids
By Shannon Banks, ReadySteps Program Manager

Every Tuesday morning, kids ages zero to five and their parents bounce into the Friendship Court Community Center ready for two hours of fun with the ReadySteps program at ReadyKids. The ReadySteps program takes a family-centered, holistic approach to school readiness, and supports the entire family to be ready for school. We support kids to develop the skills they need to enter school ready to learn, and we empower parents by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to support their child’s growth and development. In addition, we work to connect families to the resources they need to reach their goals, and help them to identify and address concerns.

How does ReadySteps Help Kids?

When our kids aren’t ready with the tools they need to succeed, they fail or fall behind. When our parents aren’t ready with the tools they need to succeed, it is much more difficult for them to support their children. We know that kids who participate in high quality early childhood education programs enter school better prepared and are more successful than their peers who have not had those opportunities. We know that having a primary caregiver with whom they have a strong, positive and nurturing relationship is critical to kids’ optimal growth and development. And we also know that when caregivers are supported to understand how their child is growing and developing, build relationships with neighbors, and are able to access to community resources, they are better equipped to make choices and decisions that help propel their kids to success.

What happens during a ReadySteps Playgroup?

Through play kids learn about how the world and its people work. Jen Fenerty (Group Leader), Margot Pleasants (Educator), and Laura Somel (Family Coordinator), design and facilitate activities aimed at supporting child and adult growth in all areas of their life. Circle time offers the opportunity to come together and work as a group, and to practice taking turns and following directions. Stations with different educational activities allow kids the opportunity to make a choice, and decide what they want to do and how they want to do it, within the established limits and boundaries of playgroup.  They also provide parents the opportunity to follow their child’s lead, and become engrossed in play. Activities such as these, and many more, provide the foundation for learning basic math and literacy skills, such as counting and letter recognition.

How does ReadySteps Help Parents?

Our parent support and education activities give parents the opportunity to shine as the expert on their kids, learn new skills, and give feedback on the program. We collaborate with other programs and agencies including the Healthy Families Program, Women’s Initiative, PB&J Fund, Infant and Toddler Connection of the Blue Ridge, Charlottesville City Schools, and CHiP to provide information and services to empower parents. We also host a monthly Parent Advisory Committee, complete developmental screenings, and share helpful parenting information and ways to extend the playgroup learning experience at home. Kids do not come with an instruction manual, and everyone needs someone to support and encourage them.  ReadySteps works to do just that.

How do I get involved?

The ReadySteps program is free, and all parents or caregivers and their kids ages birth to age 5 years are welcome to join us. Our next playgroup is Tuesday, April 10 at 10:00 a.m.!

Master Plan Digest: Talking about Friendship Court with Community Stakeholders

The redevelopment of Friendship Court will require partnerships across Charlottesville. To begin laying the groundwork for those partnerships, and to solicit input about a variety of issues integral to understanding Friendship Court, Piedmont Housing and its design team pursued intensive stakeholder engagement.

We met and talked with a wide array of stakeholders including Neighborhood Development Services, Virginia Housing Development Authority, the Boys and Girls Club, Legal Aid Justice Center, resident associations, neighborhood associations, schools and various not-for-profit service providers including site visits to local organizations.

Stakeholders Engaged (December 2015–May 2016)

Tamika Allen
Pete Armetta
Charlie Armstrong
Shannon Banks
Wes Bellamy
Carolyn Betts
Tara Boyd
Chip Boyle
Read Brodhead
Mark Brown
Wendy Brown
Brenda Castañeda
Zoe Cohen
Brandon Collins
Ty Cooper
Chris Craytor
Missy Creasy
Brian Daly
Mary Loose DeViney
Bill Dittmar
Andrea Douglas
Emily Dreyfus
Connie Dunn
Bill Edgerton
Chris Engel
Bob Fenwick
Kathy Galvin
Eunice Garrett
Deanna Gould
Melvin Grady
Charlene Green
Brian Haluska
Rashad Hanbali
Beverly Hanlin
Mike Hawkins
Jack and Linda Hawxhurst
Stephen Hitchcock
Jack Horn
Rosa Hudson
Tim Hulbert
Satyendra Singh Huja
Alex Ikefuna
Deb Jackson
Greg Jackson
Eric Johnson
Julie Jones
Daphne Keiser
Susan Kirschel
Katie Kishore
Craig Kotarski
Diane Kuknyo
Ludwig Kuttner
Oliver Kuttner
Kelly Logan
Police Chief Longo
Rod Manifold
Kathy McHugh
Bill McGee
Jon Nafziger
Heather Newmyer
Todd Niemeier
Amanda Patterson
Piedmont Housing Board of Directors
James Pierce
Amanda Poncy
Carrie Rainey
Kim Rolla
Dan Rosensweig
Mariam Rushfin
John Santoski
Ridge Schuyler
Leslie Scott
Lena Seville
Katie Shevlin
Mayor Mike Signer
Marty Silman
Maynard Sipe
Matthew Slatts
Dede Smith
Kristin Szakos
Alan Taylor
Cathy Train
Anna Towns
Candice Van der Linde
Will Van der Linde
Bill Wardle
Kevin White
JP Williamson
Brian Wimer
Buddy Weiner

We believe this list to be comprehensive. We apologize for any omissions. If you believe we have failed to include someone in this list, please let us know. 

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What do you think? Continue the conversation with a comment below.

In our next Master Plan blog post, we’ll look at how the local housing market affects redevelopment at Friendship Court.

Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – What We Heard and What That Tells Us (Stakeholder Context)