YouthPower365’s new Magic Bus is rolling into Vail Valley neighborhoods
This roving classroom provides academic, social and emotional learning
Imagine the looks on the faces of youngsters as a brightly colored Winnebago turns down their street, opens its doors and gives kids a chance to learn and have some fun. That happens weekly with YouthPower365’s Magic Bus, a roaming classroom for preschoolers.
The Magic Bus started out as a mobile library that delivered books to kids in elementary and middle school back in 2000. It soon evolved into a mobile preschool program. This new electric bus will replace an older bus that was on its last legs — er, wheels — and could hardly make it into the neighborhoods.
“This new electric bus will be serving upvalley neighborhoods in Avon and Edwards,” said Kendra Cowles, senior manager of PwrUp Early Childhood programs at YouthPower365, the educational arm of the Vail Valley Foundation. “Our other Magic Bus, which was put into service in January of 2018, serves Eagle, Gypsum and Dotsero,” Cowles said.
The mission of the Magic Bus is to prepare 3 to 5-year-old children for success in kindergarten. It also serves families and children where they’re at. “By going into the neighborhoods, it eliminates barriers such as transportation and work schedule. We bring the classroom to them,” Cowles said.
According to YouthPower365, 50% of children under the age of five are not in any early childhood education program. The nonprofit also states that 80% of a child’s intellect, personality and social skills are developed in the first five years of a child’s life. This mobile, licensed preschool gives kids what they need for kindergarten success and mimics a classroom setting.
“The kids say goodbye to mom, come on the bus and do routines like taking their shoes off, hanging up the backpacks and then we provide routines that prepare them for kindergarten. It’s everything from the social and emotional side of things to early literacy, emergent math and more so they can thrive in kindergarten,” Cowles said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Magic Bus has adapted to ensure students can continue to attend class on the bus safely. Children will attend classes in groups of four. The kids meet for a two-hour class twice a week for a total of four hours per week. “It really allows them to mimic what a school-centered base program looks like.” Cowles said.
The electric bus allows YouthPower365 to be part of a cleaner, greener environment and be a good steward in the community. “It also really opened up some new partnerships and sponsorships as well with everyone from Holy Cross Energy to Vail Resorts helping with where we park and charge the bus,” Cowles said.
The only requirement to sign up for the program with the Magic Bus is that children aren’t already enrolled in any other preschool program. The two Magic Buses serve eight different communities throughout Eagle County. YouthPower365 has an online registration program that will get your child either in a class or on a waitlist. Classes run from October 2020 through August 2021. For more information, visit youthpower365.org.
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