FROM LEFT: Kim Walters, Sheila Kath, Barb Yule, Bob Leitch, Deb McCarthy, Jane Gunn, Luke Harriman and Marion Sillett at last year's Little Kids Day Out.
FROM LEFT: Kim Walters, Sheila Kath, Barb Yule, Bob Leitch, Deb McCarthy, Jane Gunn, Luke Harriman and Marion Sillett at last year's Little Kids Day Out. Renee Albrecht

Stats on 'vulnerable' Gympie kids show a need for support

SPONSORSHIPS are needed to help the Little Kids Day Out maintain its stature as the leading community event for Gympie region children under eight.

Alarming local statistics published by the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) in 2015 emphasise the importance of the event, which returns for the fifth time this September after winning the 2017 Gympie Regional Community Event of the Year.

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The AEDC data showed 32.1% of Gympie's kids were identified as "vulnerable in one or more areas” including communication skills and general knowledge, language and cognitive skills, physical health & wellbeing, social competence and emotional maturity before they started school.

Data for the wider region, measured as the 'Cooloola Community', returned a similar result of 30.3%, which sits above Queensland at 26.1% and Australia at 22%.

Speaking at yesterday's Gympie Chamber of Commerce breakfast, LDKO Artistic Director Kerry Eaton said local support was a must for eventual success in decreasing the numbers of vulnerable kids.

"If we don't start nipping this in the bud now, it's just going to compound,” she said.

"It truly takes a village to raise a child.”

LKDO chair and Early Childhood Teachers' Association President Kim Walters said the event highlights the need for parental influence in developing their kids before they begin their educational journeys.

"If we can increase parents' awareness of quality early learning and the influence that has on their children later on, it works out well for everyone,” Mrs Walters said.

"If children are supported early on they get better when they get to school.”

Mrs Walters said the community could expect a "myriad” of activities this year, including a stage play from Brisbane and an eco-friendly, interactive art installation demonstrating the differences between "pristine and polluted” beaches.

Activities from previous years, such as pat-a-pet and face painting, will be on offer again this year.

"We had 40 out of 45 schools and early learning centres participate last year, and we're hoping for the same or more this time,” Mrs Walters said.

"We also had 260 and 126 organisations involved last year, which was great.

Mrs Walters said two local businesses had already expressed interest in becoming major partners for this year's event, but more support was needed due to uncertainty over State Government and Regional Arts Development funding.

"To continue to provide this event free for the community, we need support.”

Ring Kim Walters on 0418 157 280 for more information.