The University of New Mexico Family Development Program hosts a celebration in recognition of the La Mesa Elementary School Crafting Co-op on Monday, May 19 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at La Mesa Elementary located at 7500 Copper Ave. N.E. in Albuquerque.

The event recognizes the work of the La Mesa Early Childhood Leadership Team which supported La Mesa families and neighborhood members over the past year as they organized themselves into the Crafting Co-op.

The Family Development Program (FDP) hopes to focus attention on one of the co-op’s first projects, the successful production of the Toddler Love Tote, a colorful tote bag filled with toddler early learning information and activities developed by FDP and hand-made by the La Mesa Crafting Co-op. 

Retired FDP staff member Diana Montoya planned and designed the Love Tote and its contents, which are intended for adults to interact with their young child. “Every item made was co-created and pilot-tested with the most important consumer – two-year-olds themselves," she said. She added that positive adult interaction with children is key for the development of essential skills needed to be successful in later years.

“There are so many simple things that families can do with their toddlers that bring out learning and delight,” FDP Director Lois Vermilya said.

Sample Toddler Love Totes will be available for review at the event, and refreshments and a light lunch will be served.

The mission of the Family Development Program, an outreach arm of the UNM College of Education, is to strengthen early childhood education through strong partnerships between families and teachers so that children thrive. The La Mesa Early Childhood Leadership Team is an FDP capacity-building initiative designed to build a strong foundation for early childhood education within and around a community school, aimed at promoting school readiness and academic success.

With the strong support of La Mesa Elementary School principal Bernadette Vishaway and the school’s leadership team, authentic relationships are being built among parents, grandparents, early learning programs, schools and community members to support young children’s learning even before they are enrolled in school.