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‘Saddle Up’ for drive-thru fun — and fundraising —...

‘Saddle Up’ for drive-thru fun — and fundraising — with MTSU’s ACE Learning Center

Little learners at MTSU's Ann Campbell Early Learning Center have fun at the nonprofit, inclusive preschool, an arm of MTSU’s College of Education in a series of photos from this spring. The center is holding a drive-thru version of its annual

Supporters of the little learners of MTSU’s Ann Campbell Early Learning Center can “Saddle Up” to ride around the range when they join a drive-thru version of the annual fundraiser set for Saturday, April 17.

MTSU Ann Campbell Early Learning Center “Saddle Up” 2021 graphic

Click on the image to learn more about the 2021 “Saddle Up” fundraiser for MTSU’s Ann Campbell Learning Center.

The nonprofit ACE Learning Center, an arm of MTSU’s College of Education, is an inclusive preschool for children 12 months to kindergarten age, with and without developmental delays, that provides an environment for them to play and learn with and from each other.

Teachers at the center plan activities that help each child develop good communication, social, cognitive and motor skills. More than 200 MTSU students work and volunteer with the children and support teachers in the center’s three classrooms during the academic year.

To keep families safer during the pandemic while still giving them a chance to put the fun in the center’s fundraising, “Saddle Up” organizers devised this year’s event with “family fun kits” and “parent packs,” filled with food and activities for all ages.

new ACE Learning Center logo webACE Learning Center supporters can preorder their kits and packs at www.mtalumni.com/saddleup, then pick up the items between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Central April 17 in a safely distanced drive-thru at the center’s headquarters at 206 N. Baird Lane.

The kits feature breakfast treats, activities and access to a special online video created by the ACE Learning Center with performances and educational activities from Cowboy Dan, Moozie the Cow, Creativity in Balloons, the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, “Stay Sustainable with Miss Stephanie” and, of course, the children of the center.

The family kits, at $15 each, include the donor’s choice of one of four Home Depot Workshop Kits, a book, coloring books and crayons, a Lowe’s garden kit, a Chick-fil-A coupon and cow, Purity milk and juice, a Krispy Kreme doughnut and more.

A $10 parent pack includes a cup of Krispy Kreme coffee and a doughnut, Purity milk and juice, and a bag packed full of parent resources.

One of the little learners at MTSU's Ann Campbell Early Learning Center holds to a bar for balance while playing in the center's Green Room for 1- to almost 3-year-olds as teacher Kristy Kirby watches and smiles alongside. The nonprofit, inclusive preschool, an arm of MTSU’s College of Education, is holding a drive-thru version of its annual "Saddle Up" fundraiser on Saturday, April 17. For more information, visit https://www.mtsu.edu/acelearningcenter/saddleup.php. (Photo courtesy of the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU)

One of the little learners at MTSU’s Ann Campbell Early Learning Center holds to a bar for balance while playing in the center’s Green Room for 1- to almost 3-year-olds as teacher Kristy Kirby watches and smiles alongside. The nonprofit, inclusive preschool, an arm of MTSU’s College of Education, is holding a drive-thru version of its annual “Saddle Up” fundraiser on Saturday, April 17. For more information, visit https://www.mtsu.edu/acelearningcenter/saddleup.php. (Photo courtesy of the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU)

Now in its 14th year, the Saddle Up fundraiser supports ACE Learning Center projects alongside funds from tuition, MTSU, the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, the Charity Circle of Murfreesboro and private donations.

Thanks to Saddle Up supporters, the center’s been able to update its classroom facilities, learning material and services for growing children, a task that always seems to need repeating.

MTSU Department of Elementary and Special Education logoOne of the largest projects helped by Saddle Up fundraiser is an expansion of the ACE Learning Center’s unique wheelchair-accessible natural playground along with continuing to provide daily services for local children.

The center is named for the late Ann Campbell, a faculty member in MTSU’s Department of Elementary and Special Education, who created Project Help, one of Tennessee’s first inclusive early childhood programs, in 1983. Organizers gave the center its new name in 2014.

To learn more about Saddle Up, contact center staffer Jacob Smith at jacob.smith@mtsu.edu or visit www.mtsu.edu/acelearningcenter/saddleup.php.

For more information about the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center and its work, and to donate, visit www.mtsu.edu/acelearningcenter or call 615-898-2458.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

One of the little learners at MTSU's Ann Campbell Early Learning Center giggles while taking a break from playing outside on the center's paved play area. The nonprofit, inclusive preschool, an arm of MTSU’s College of Education, is holding a drive-thru version of its annual "Saddle Up" fundraiser on Saturday, April 17. For more information, visit https://www.mtsu.edu/acelearningcenter/saddleup.php. (Photo courtesy of the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU)

One of the little learners at MTSU’s Ann Campbell Early Learning Center giggles while taking a break from playing outside on the center’s paved play area. The nonprofit, inclusive preschool, an arm of MTSU’s College of Education, is holding a drive-thru version of its annual “Saddle Up” fundraiser on Saturday, April 17. (Photo courtesy of the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU)

One of the little learners at MTSU's Ann Campbell Early Learning Center, wearing her blue "MT Raiders" shirt, grins as she tries to decide which shape to cut out next in play dough in the center's Blue Room for 2- and 3-year-olds. The nonprofit, inclusive preschool, an arm of MTSU’s College of Education, is holding a drive-thru version of its annual "Saddle Up" fundraiser on Saturday, April 17. For more information, visit https://www.mtsu.edu/acelearningcenter/saddleup.php. (Photo courtesy of the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU)

One of the little learners at MTSU’s Ann Campbell Early Learning Center, wearing her blue “MT Raiders” shirt, grins as she tries to decide which shape to cut out next in play dough in the center’s Blue Room for 2- and 3-year-olds. The nonprofit, inclusive preschool, an arm of MTSU’s College of Education, is holding a drive-thru version of its annual “Saddle Up” fundraiser on Saturday, April 17. (Photo courtesy of the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU)


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