The First Five Years Gala

Research shows that children who enter school ready to learn are more likely to read on grade level, graduate, pursue higher education, get a job, get married, and buy a house.

Research also shows for every 100 children who start school behind, 88 of those children are still behind 4 years later.

On June 22, more than 350 community leaders, educator, business leaders, childcare providers and parents participated in the “First Five Years Gala” at Epcot’s World Showplace Pavilion.  Funds reaised will be used to ensure that children in Orange and Osceola Counties have access to the tools to they need to thrive so they may develop into successful and contributing adults.

The Early Learning Coalitions (ELC) of Orange and Osceola counties receive $15.67 in matching dollars for every dollar they raise. The goal to raise $100,000 locally will bring in an additional $1.5 million in federal funds.

A highlight of the evening was 10-year-old Sir Carter who surprised the audience when he took over the podium from the evening’s host, Dick Batchelor.

“My name is Sir. Yeah, that’s my name – Sir – it’s the name my parents gave me. They were dreaming of my future before I was even born.  Before I even started Kindergarten. So why are those “The First Five Years” so important? Well, we learn so much about who we are and grow so quickly into who we will become! And a good educational start leads to pretty much any future a kid like me can imagine. Even a kid named Sir.”

Joining Carter on stage was Channel 13 news anchor Ybeth Bruzual who stated, “I’m here so the ELCs can help as many kids as possible; I love what they do for kids!”

This year’s gala honored David Lawrence Jr., president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation for his numerous contributions to early childhood development and readiness.

Walt Disney World has been the event’s title sponsor since its inception 3 years ago. Disney leaders serve on the volunteer boards of both the Orange and Osceola Early Learning Coalitions.

For more information, click here.