“The ants go marching one by one hoorah!” echoed through the fellowship hall at the Elkin Presbyterian Church last Thursday morning at 9 as children ages 1 to 5, toddlers to Pre-K, came to participate in the Wonder Walk to raise money for the March of Dimes with their parents and teachers.
The Wonder Walk started about six years ago to promote the March of Dimes, a program aimed at raising money to help assist families with children born premature. Two weeks before the walk, children and parents raised money for the March of Dimes and last Thursday morning, the children came to celebrate the fundraiser.
During the Wonder Walk, the children were educated on the cause they were supporting and what it meant to be born premature and the challenges that those children and parents faced. They then partook in a fun march around the church, singing and playing along the way.
“It’s a great opportunity to educate the children and just raising awareness,” said Holly Brewer, one of the teachers with the Elkin Presbyterian Church Preschool. “I love it and I feel it’s great, especially with how it’s impacted the community. It’s just something people need to know about. There’s a lot of extra costs these families with premature babies need to deal with due to developmental issues. It’s a cause that we like to support and we do what we can. The March of Dimes sends us the packets, the envelopes, the banner, and stickers for the march. It’s our job to make it a fun time for the kids. They love marching around and getting together.”
Premature babies are born early before the gestation period is complete, usually before their 37 weeks is done. Premature babies often have more health problems than normal infants and may have to stay in the hospital longer. Premature babies usually do not have fully developed lungs and also carry long-term health problems with them their entire lives. Some conditions these babies face include apnea, respiratory distress syndrome, jaundice, necrotizing eterocolitis, patent ductus arteriosis, anemia, and infections. One in every 10 babies is born prematurely in the U.S.
Usually the walk is held outside the church with the kids marching around the church, but it was moved indoors due to inclement weather this year.
Brittany Shugart is the mother of Callen and Chloe Shugart. Her daughter, Chloe, was born premature and she is grateful for the walk.
“I think it’s a good event for the preschool. I’m glad my children participate,” said Brittany Shugart. “It gives back to the community. This is the second year we’ve done this. My older one really enjoys it because she was a pre birth so I’ve tried to explain to her that it gives back to babies like she was.”
The Wonder Walk is not just an opportunity to raise money to support families in need but also a chance to teach the youth of the community about an important cause and raise awareness.
“I think it’s very beneficial for them to be a part of their community so they can feel a bigger part of the things that go around them,” Janet Adams, teacher at the preschool. “I think it’s good for them to socialize with the rest of the school and for them to realize that as a unit and a community within the school we can be beneficial to a cause.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.