FAMILY FUN DAY—From left: Toddler 2 teacher Precious Dean, 2-year-old Kelaja Platt, 2-year-old Zuri Mitchell-Grant and assistant teacher Sharelle Jones.

New Pittsburgh Courier managing editor Rob Taylor Jr. made a quick left, then a sharp right, and ran right into Hug Me Tight Childlife Centers’ first-ever Family Fun Day! Schenley Park was the site, May 18 the date. Over 60 kids from the two Hill District centers (1801 Centre Ave. and 1835 Centre Ave., inside the Hill House) enjoyed an afternoon of swings, flying kites and plenty of food! Wanda Franklin, executive director, said her staff wanted to do something different and get the kids playing outside “in the grass,” and within days, the Hug Me Tight Family Fun Day was born. “I come from a background of educators,” Franklin said. “It was really a gift, because throughout my life, everybody in the neighborhood was always at our house. And people have helped me in my life when I was younger and misdirected. I just have a genuine love for people.”

Franklin, who has been executive director for seven years, said there truly is a science to early childhood development. “It’s all about attachment and relationships, and getting the best out of any kid to help them develop. It’s about the relationship to make the kid feel empowered, that ‘I can do this.’ And demonstrate all the pro-social behavior that they need to be successful.”


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