ABINGDON, Va — First lady of Virginia Pamela Northam visited the garden at Miss Amy’s LLC child care center in Abingdon on Monday.
“We love coming out to Southwest Virginia so much,” Northam said. “Any chance we get to come to Abingdon, we’re excited to come out here.”
Northam’s visit followed earlier stops at schools in Marion and Blacksburg.
“We do a back-to-school tour every year,” Northam said. “We’ve gone over 5,000 miles across the commonwealth.”
Northam stressed the vitality of early childhood education during her visit.
“We talk about the importance of getting ready for school,” she said. “It’s not just buying backpacks and getting new clothes.”
Early childhood centers are key, Northam said,
“It really has to do with making sure our children have all the skills they need to start kindergarten,” said Northam, an occupational therapist. “We need those early years. They are so vital and critical to brain development, zero to 5. Really, 80% of the brain is [developed]before the child even gets to kindergarten.”
Miss Amy’s currently enrolls 40 pupils but has a license for 61. The operator, Amy Bowie, says 50 children are currently on the waiting list.
Under state distancing guidelines, Bowie is now limited in her child care capacity.
“We’re under the restrictions right now of smaller group sizes, and the groups have to be separated,” Bowie said. “And I totally understand that.”
Northam met children in the garden at the center.
“It is so critical that we provide all children an opportunity to learn in those critical years,” Northam said. “And folks like Miss Amy [Bowie], who’s been doing this for 28 years, are so critical to that environment.”
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