First 5 Yuba has $375,000 up for grabs for organizations and individuals who offer programs benefiting Yuba County children up to age 5 and their families.

The state program, First 5 California, was created when voters passed Proposition 10 in 1998, creating a tax on tobacco products to fund programs in all 58 counties.

First 5 Yuba's counterpart in Sutter County, the Sutter County Children & Families Commission, doesn't have any grants organizations can apply for, but Executive Director Michele Blake said $1.3 million will be invested in programs this fiscal year.

Programs are aimed at preparing children for success through education, proper health and family support services, said Cynthia Sodari, executive director of First 5 Yuba.

Grant funding for school readiness programs will continue, like those offered at Ella, Cedar Lane and Linda elementary schools, Sodari said.

Within health, the goal is to keep kids physically active, Sodari said. The agency, for examples, helps fund the Olivehurst Pool and a spray park in Edgewater.

The Harmony Health Family Resource Center at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Linda is also funded by First 5 Yuba grants, although the school district provides the structure.

Program manager Rina Banuelos said people come in asking for emergency assistance for housing and food at the resource center.

The center also offers home visitation and case management and hosts speakers to address issues including domestic violence.

On Thursday, the center hosted four mothers and their children attending an Empowering Moms Group meeting where mothers talked about concerns they had while working on a scrapbook.

"This is an activity to de-stress moms," said Ariana Medina, a family advocate and home visitor, who led the activity.

Yuliana Brambila, who brought three children to the event, said she was happy to see her children learning new things.

Her son, Bryan Machuca, 3, was all smiles while showing off an owl pendant he added to a chain while personalizing a necklace.

The children improved their social and gross motor skills though a variety of crafts with help from a pair of AmeriCorps family advocates.

Kaonou Yang, 28, of Marysville was one of two who helped kids accessorize necklaces and decorate plastic bottles with stickers.

"The first five years are the most influential building blocks for early childhood education," Yang said. "I strongly believe in the First 5 mission."

CONTACT David Bitton at 749-4796. Find him on Facebook at ADdbitton.

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