Children’s Activity Area and Therapy Dogs Stand Out at Fairs

Good Beginnings Fairs encourage family engagement across Summit County

Thanks to several Summit County First Things First partners and other community organizations, more families are now equipped with appropriate resources for getting their little ones ready for school.

Nordonia Good Beginnings Fair

Children could practice writing letters or drawing in these cornmeal tins during the Nordonia and Springfield Good Beginnings Fairs.


Nearly 300 total individuals attended this year’s Good Beginnings Fairs, part of the late Summit County Executive Russ Pry’s Summit Kids Month. The Nordonia Hills City School District hosted its first fair at Ledgeview Elementary School on Aug. 1; the Akron-Summit County Public Library hosted the Akron fair on Aug. 3; and Springfield Junior/Senior High School hosted the Springfield fair on Aug. 9.

“The Good Beginnings Fairs expanded to Nordonia with great success,” says Michelle Burrier, Summit Education Initiative’s summer intern who led the fairs’ planning process. “We were able to reach 150 people and 40+ families at that fair alone.”

This was also the first year therapy dogs from Sit Means Sit made an appearance during the fairs.

“The children who attended loved reading aloud to the therapy dogs, as well as playing in the activity area,” Burrier adds.

While many families won raffle prizes as part of a drawing for attendees who visited at least 10 community organizations during the fairs, a few other individuals won gift cards as part of an additional drawing for completing the event survey. The gift card winners are listed below:

  1. Nordonia: Katie D.
  2. Akron: Lindsay W.
  3. Springfield: Sandy C.
Springfield Good Beginnings Fair

Springfield Good Beginnings Fair at Springfield Junior/Senior High School

On average, 15 organizations attended each fair as vendors sharing free materials and other valuable resources with families who attended. Many materials focused on early literacy, parent-child interactions and other important 16 For Success skills.

“At all of the fairs, families made meaningful connections with community organizations,” Burrier says. “Parents learned about ways they can support their child’s learning at home, and how they can help their child be ready to succeed when he or she walks into kindergarten.”

Burrier adds, “I am most proud of how we were able to connect many parents with services before they reach kindergarten.”