By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Sixty-four children ranging in ages from 9 months to 5 years visited the “big campus” of St. Ambrose University on April 9.
The children attend St. Ambrose University’s Children’s Campus, located off campus. Director Deb Brownson said the children look most forward to the bus ride to the university. The event has been held many times over the past 20 years.
Parents, family, university staff and students helped push small children in strollers, and carry or walk with them through a tour of the campus. The group paraded with musical instruments and signs from the Rogalski Center to Cosgrove Hall to Ambrose Hall to Galvin Fine Arts Center and back to Rogalski. The participants waved to faculty and staff as they went through the buildings.
Their day began with a welcome by Paul Koch, vice president for academic and student affairs.
Following the walk, the children were divided into groups. Some went to the library where Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher, Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba and St. Ambrose staff members PJ Foley and Malavika Shirkhande took turns reading stories.
Many outdoor activities were available for the children, from drawing with sidewalk chalk and making clay figures to blowing bubbles and singing and dancing. They also enjoyed a snack.
Brownson said the event coincided with Week of the Young Child. “It gives the Children’s Campus a chance to let the community and families know how important early childhood programming is.”
Sallee Beneke, associate professor of early childhood education, said, “This is a celebration of accomplishment and shows our mission here is critical and successful. We want to demonstrate to the community the wonderful things we do at Children’s Campus.”
Beneke noted that St. Ambrose students majoring in education engage in observation and practicum hours at Children’s Campus.
Parent Amy Jones said she was put on a waiting list for the Children’s Campus while pregnant with her son Dylan, now 3 years old, and wasn’t able to secure a spot for him until January this year. “It shows what a great reputation they have.” She said Children’s Campus allows children to explore in their own way and incorporate that exploration into lessons with how’s and why’s. She enjoyed taking some time off work to show her son the campus where she and her husband Jason met. She also previously worked for the university.