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November 3, 2016

It's never easy to admit you need help. For most of us, asking for help is a sign of weakness because it's admitting we can't accomplish a task or fix something by ourselves. But what if we look at it another way. What if we start to look at asking for help as a sign of strength? Yes, we're admitting we can't do something by ourselves, but at the same time we have the courage and wisdom to know that outside assistance, in whatever form it takes, will help us in the long run and that an issue will be resolved more quickly.

Leigh Laughorn, director of Trinity Childcare Ministries at Trinity United Methodist Church on Arnett Boulevard, knew that the childcare center needed positive change. While Laughorn knew she could affect change herself, she also knew that by she could only do so much on her own.

"You can move a mountain easier with help," Laughorn said. That's why she contacted Smart Beginnings Danville Pittsylvania. "Becky 'Tickle' had the reputation and the capabilities I knew we needed to move in the right direction."

Tickle, the infant and toddler specialist for Smart Beginnings, spends 40 hours at the center providing on-site coaching and mentoring, working on goals set by the director and teacher. While she works with children from birth to three years old, at Trinity her focus is on the 2-year-old program. The goals set to be achieved in the classroom include rearranging furniture to allow for better supervision and more open space for play; creating a quiet, cozy area; and moving pictures so they are at eye level for the children. Topics chosen by other centers have included diversity, health and sanitation issues (proper hand washing), staff-to-child and peer-to-peer interaction.

Laughorn believes that while Tickle may only be working with one classroom, positive change will not only occur there, it will also trickle down into other classrooms and spread.

"Miss Kim, (the lead teacher in the 2-year-old program), will be able to go into other classrooms and do teachings and trainings," Laughorn said.

Before becoming the center director, Laughorn was a teacher in the Caswell County Public School System for 21 years. Once she was hired as the director, she started paying more attention to Smart Beginnings and what they offer. In addition, she also heard from the organization itself as it offered its services and help whenever she needed it.

"They invited me to a workshop where I met them in person and learned what Smart Beginnings can provide as well as about Virginia Quality," Laughorn said. "I love the fact they are able to help me because I'm just one person and I can't do it all by myself. They provide encouragement, positive support and materials, and they're great at helping us know where to locate resources when we need them."

While Laughorn realized the need for outside help and support she's had a harder time convincing the teachers that Smart Beginnings is "not here to tell us what we're doing wrong, but to take us from where we are to a better place. Our theme is Go & Grow. We have higher expectations now and we need to keep moving and making changes."

Trinity's child day center has its roots in a Mother's Day Out Program that began in the 1970s. Since then it has morphed into a childcare program for ages four weeks to after schoolers (children aged 9 years and 11 months).

"I'm excited Smart Beginnings has been able to come on board with us and we're creating this team work," Laughorn said. "I love that I can call with a question and they will help me find an answer so I feel like I'm not treading water alone."