Conference eases child anxiety through books

Brandy Estrada
Staff Writer

Parents and young learners met with local authors, read books and mastered new reading strategies at the 17th Annual Family Learning Conference hosted by LaFetra College of Education on Saturday in Sneaky Park. The theme for the conference was “Slow Life: A More Mindful Way of Living.” The event was held for learners between pre-kindergarten to 8th grade.

LaFetra faculty and staff created the event for students and families near the community to learn about the importance of education and reading. The college invited eight local authors to read books and meet with the children. Approximately 400 were in attendance. 

The day consisted of a schedule for families to meet with authors, attend workshops, enjoy a musical performance, spend lunch together and enter into multiple raffles. A book store was set up outside for children to purchase books they liked. 

“I love seeing families come out especially when you (do not) have to spend money and (that is) what we wanted to focus on today,” Marga Madhuri, professor of teacher education, said. “We wanted to bring families, especially first-generation, to a college campus.”

Madhura helped start the conference 17 years ago with 70 in attendance her first year. The maximum attendees she has ever had is 950. This event came to be when Madhura’s colleague, who works at the Fairplex Child Development Center, observed her children’s class and had an idea. Together, they started a learning conference that has grown tremendously.

Teachers and donations from other schools helped contribute for the books, prizes and event. Some of the raffle prizes included bicycles, Pokemon toys and cards, and an iPad. 

Students from Pomona, Claremont, La Verne and other surrounding areas were the bulk of attendees. 

“I have a passion for helping youth because I think (it is) so important now that the rates of anxiety are so high especially in our youth and young adults,” Lauren Fittante, program manager of the Center for Neurodiversity, Learning and Wellness, said. “It is about being able to provide a service that helps them have another outlet to express themselves and to also support themselves.” 

Fittante hosted a Yoga for Children workshop at the conference. Fittante started the program for children including those with special needs, autism, sensory process disorder, and children who experienced trauma. 

“It feels good being here and it is nice to see community again because we have gone so long without it,” Fittante said. 

Johanna Clemens, La Verne resident, and her daughter attended the event for the first time after seeing the flier on Instagram. Her daughter is a part of Bonita Unified School District. 

“My day has been awesome and fun,” Clemens said. “We started with the tracing class, we planted and then we went to a story book reading.” 

Clemens enjoys coming out to different learning events and participating with her daughter around the community.

“I definitely see myself coming back with my other kids and I even told my cousin she (should have) came,” Clemens said. 

The volunteers for the event consisted of ULV students. The football team passed out lunch and other students participated in the raffle and worked on other activities. 

Caitlin Layseca, sophomore educational studies major, started her day at 7 a.m. to help set up the conference. 

“Set up began yesterday but we have been putting together goodie bags, raffle tickets and making signs,” Layseca said. “My day has been really fun and I have never experienced something like this before.” 

For more events to come, information on the LaFetra College of Education can be found on their website education.laverne.edu and on their Instagram page @lafetra_ulv

Brandy Estrada can be reached at brandy.estrada@laverne.edu.

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