Top 12 moments of 2022


Kris Evans receives Division of Early Childhood Award

Our very own Kris Evans, who has been with us for 16 years, was awarded the Division of Early Childhood Mentorship award! Kris was flown to Chicago to accept the prestigious and well-deserved award in person.

What mentees say about Kris:

“Kris is a patient and caring mentor, that pushes her mentees to excellence, while helping them feel empowered and confident in their own skill set. She is always eager to answer questions and help-out, no matter how simple or difficult the task may be.”

Kris exemplifies the dedication and service that all of us here at Root for Kids strive for. Congratulations, Kris!

San Juan County Early Intervention contract is granted to Root for Kids

On July 1st, Root for Kids was awarded the contract to San Juan County’s Early Intervention program. This Early Intervention program has served San Juan County for over 30 years. Early Intervention provides services to children who are showing developmental delay or who have a condition strongly linked to developmental delay, such as Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy or Autism. Jurea Ben, Tymra Butt and Lacey Haas are our new team representatives for Root for Kids at our office Blanding. We couldn’t be more honored to have this opportunity to help the families and expand our reach in Southern Utah. 

Jordane Bromley earns Bachelor of Science in Nursing and oversees Early Head Start pregnant women

Jordane started with us 8 years ago as a home visitor, soon after she moved to the health services as a health services assistant. Just last September, Jordane graduated from Utah Tech University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In her new position, Jordane oversees all Early Head Start pregnant women. Root for Kids is excited to have another RN on board and would like to congratulate Jordane once more on her dedication and accomplishments.

Bloom and Grow completes successful first year

First pregnancies can be a difficult journey on your own. Helping young pregnant mothers has been on the docket here at Root for Kids for a while. We had seen similar programs up in Salt Lake City having success and knew that it was something that needed to be available down here in our ever-growing population. With the help of a grant from our friends at Three Corners Women’s Giving Circle and our Registered Nurses, we were able to start a bi-weekly program. We are happy to be a guiding light for these young parents and are thrilled to see support of the program in our community. If you or anyone you know would like to know more about our Bloom and Grow program, fill out a form here.

Celebrated 20 year partnership with Utah Tech Dental Hygiene Program

In 2022 Root for Kids and Utah Tech University Dental Hygiene Program celebrated 20 years of community partnership. Many families’ lives have been changed by the dental hygiene clinic and the mobile clinic. We see patients from the community who often lack resources to receive proper dental care, so having Utah Tech’s dental staff, students and volunteer dentists onboard is a huge benefit to our families. We are very grateful for Utah Tech Dental Hygiene Program’s continued support.

A successful 7th Annual Radiothon

The holiday spirit continues to be in full bloom here at Root for Kids! Canyon Media Broadcasting sponsored this year’s annual holiday fundraiser and diaper drive. We couldn’t be any happier with our awesome turnout. Santa, hot chocolate, games, and holiday cheer were on full display. Financial contributions and diapers were donated, helping countless families in the community.

The Secret Garden Gala returns

This was the first year we held our Secret Garden Gala at the Dixie Convention Center’s Garden Room. The location proved to be a perfect for us, where we were able to accommodate a record number of guests over the unforgettable night of glamour and heart. After our awards ceremony, Fred Walker and Tyler Hunsaker, our returning MC’s, ran our live auction with the enthusiastic crowd. Maddie’s Dance Group brought smiles to all our guests faces with their heartfelt performance that closed the night out. Thank you to our presenting sponsor of the evening, Litehouse, Inc. Their continued support has provided financial support to family services in our community. For those interested in attending this year’s Gala, event info can be found here.

V Lowry Snow accepts Debbie Justice Award.

2nd Annual Glow in the Dark Golf Tournament in full swing

We held our Annual Glow in the Dark Golf Tournament at the Coral Canyon Golf Course for the second year! Raffles, food, drinks, and competition aplenty was on display in full neon glow. Guests started the day off playing 9 holes in the sun, followed by a dinner break. After that, the moon was out, and the game turned into a Glow-in-the-Dark competition. It was a fun and hilarious time had by all, where teams learned the true meaning of “taking a shot in the dark.”

Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament | Root for Kids

Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament | Root for Kids

The first Cornhole Tournament hits the target

Our friends at TDS and Tru by Hilton approached us about a new fundraiser and event, which became our first Cornhole Tournament. The afternoon was filled with friendly competition between local businesses and beanbag tossing enthusiasts. Coupled with a delicious lunch, our first outing with the Cornhole Tournament was a great success. With that success, we are pleased to announce that our 2nd Annual Cornhole Tournament will be on March 24th. Teams are sold out, but you can join us as a spectator! Enjoy lunch with us and cheer on your favorite local business! Register here.

Early Head Start goal achieved

One of the most important parts of our Early Head Start grant is an in-kind donation goal. These donations include items donated and volunteer hours worked. Reaching this goal is a major success for us, proving that our presence in the community as a place to volunteer with is having an impact. If you (or a group) would like to volunteer with us. Contact Elizabeth Santana here.


Stephani Watson, 15 years of service

Stephani Watson, Utah School for the Deaf and Blind Audiologist, visits Root for Kids twice a month to provide comprehensive hearing screenings for enrolled children. 15 years ago, Stephani randomly stopped by our office to see how she could help, asking us for a need to fill. Now, 15 years later, she has provided hearing assessments to hundreds of children in our community. She goes above and beyond to see families. Whether it’s after hours, a last-minute notice or a home visit, she makes sure referrals are done. Stephani also provides yearly training to our staff. We are thankful for her 15 years of service with us.

Stephani provides yearly training for all staff on pediatric audiology

Kallie Stewart receives 30 in their 30s award

Every year, St George Area Chamber of Commerce honors dynamic young professionals who are taking their business or organization in Southern Utah to a new level with the 30 in Their Thirties Award. Last year, our very own Monica Jones received the prestigious award, and this year was a Root for Kids streak with Kallie Stewart being honored. Kallie works tirelessly as our Early Head Start Director, overseeing hundreds of families, pregnant young mothers, and a team of support specialists. We couldn’t be happier with the Chamber’s choice, as Kallie truly is an exceptional individual in our community.

5 Activities for You and Your 1-2 Year Old

Activities and experiences are major building blocks in a child’s social, emotional and cognitive well-being. Simple things, like taking a walk, pointing, and asking, “what’s that?” are immensely important to your child. Here is a list of 5 simple things you can do with your 1-2 year old to guide their developmental building blocks.

Sponges and water

This one is great for outside, or around the kitchen sink. Take a squishy sponge and show them how it sops up water and squeezes out. Then let them try. Your little one will learn “cause and effect” and develop their muscles in hands, legs and back. Take it a step further and have them wash their waterproof toys. But be careful, it can get wet and slippery, so adult supervision is required.

Collect at the park

Take your toddler to the park or grassy school grounds and look for items to collect. Ask to find the “perfect” leaf. This could be done with rocks and pebbles, finding smooth or rough textures. This teaches your child to search and observe, sensory skills as well as a great physical activity and bending and walking.

Toy and cups

Play the classic “find the toy” game with your child (or whatever object you have on hand). This one can be a little hard for your baby to follow, so be patient with them and help them along if they struggle. The resulting thinking skills are invaluable for your littles. Problem solving, hand eye coordination and focus are all part of this fun and easy activity that they will surely love. Watch the video below for examples of the cup game (1 minute 22 second mark).

Make some noise

Find some objects and toys that rattle, shake and make different noise. Show and play alongside with your child as you explore and make a song. The tone and texture differences help thinking skills, and the movement and talking help physical and communication. If you want to take it a step further from here, sign up for a Kindermusik class here at Root for Kids.

Hi, hello, bye, goodbye

Play a game with your child where you poke your head through a doorframe and wave while saying “hello” and then poke your head away, so not to be seen, and say “bye-bye.” This can be done with and empty cardboard box or a makeshift fort. Your child will try to copy you or come towards you. The communication, physical and cognitive skills learned here are important in their early social skills. 

This list was adapted from ZERO TO THREE’s “Play-activities for 12 to 24 Months” For more information and extra activity ideas, see

Root for Kids 2nd Annual Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament

Root for Kids 2nd Annual Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament was a Hole- in- One! With over 140 players and 120 volunteers, this was our biggest Tournament yet.

Read below how it all came together.

The gorgeous Coral Canyon Golf Course hosted us for the second year in a row. Players began showing up at 1:00 PM for check in and the games began with a shotgun start at 2:30 PM. The golfers played 9 holes of regular daytime golf, before returning for a 5:00 dinner. Coral Canyon provided our players with an amazing barbequed pulled pork dinner. Nothing Bundt Cake for dessert (one of our generous sponsors) treated our players to one of their scrumptious Bundtinis.

Golfing with Glow

After dinner, the golfers lined up and were off to a second shotgun start for their final 9 holes at 6:30 PM. The carts were decorated, players were dressed head-to-toe in glow merch, and the luminosity from the glow course was sublime.  Golf is a difficult sport in the daytime, let alone in the dark. Shenanigans were had, hilarity and humility ensued, as golfers tried their best to hit glowing golf balls at the nighttime targets. Some golfers were witnessed reverting to poolhall rules getting the balls in the hole.

The Winners

The ACE of Kings were our Men’s division winners, with players Ryan Baeza, Mike Vesagas, Marcas Sanders, and Tyson Mendez. Jeff Smith Construction won our Co-ed division, with players Jeff Smith, Cyla McBride, Nihoa Kanohi and Sydnee Sabaitis. Congratulations to our winners!

The Raffle

Raffle winners were announced right after the team winners. Our raffle and prize items this year were simply awesome. A two-night stay at Cliffrose Lodge in Zion Park went to the lucky winner of the “Hit the Glow Target.” Gift baskets, gift certificates, Hybrid Light packages and Zion Wildflower Resort stays were only a few of the gracious raffle items that went home with lucky Tournament participants.

The Sponsors

We can’t finish this recap without thanking our generous sponsors for this year’s Tournament. Zach and Whit Photography were our Gold Sponsor, whom players saw all around the course capturing the excitement throughout the day. We thank all our amazing sponsors who made the 2nd Annual Root for Kids Glow-in-the-Dark Tournament possible.

The Volunteers

We would like to thank our Volunteers for their hard work setting up and taking down the golf course, and everything in-between. We had over 120 volunteers ranging from Utah Tech’s Women’s Basketball, DSU Nursing students to former employees of Root for Kids and friends from the community. Thank you volunteers, you made the day run smoothly!

Bloom and Grow Support Group for Teen and Young Parents

We are very excited to announce that we have started Bloom and Grow support group for teen and young parents, here at our Root for Kids St. George location.  

What is Bloom and Grow? 

Bloom and Grow will provide young expecting parents and new parents a place to come and learn about the road ahead in a safe and empathetic environment. The sessions will be led by onsite Registered Nurses who specialize in early childhood development. Presenters from the community will also be invited to share their knowledge and expertise on specific topics. The classes are free and open to residents of Washington County. 

Why Bloom and Grow? 

“For every one thousand girls age 15-19 in Washington County, about 13 of them will become a parent. Research has shown that having a child in adolescence is associated with long-term difficulties for the mother and her child. Teen parents can feel very isolated, and it may be difficult for them to find resources that are helpful to them. Our main goal is to offer parents a safe place to ask questions, and to give them tools that will empower them to be the very best parents they can be,” said Megan Eads, Root for Kids Pediatric Registered Nurse. “We have seen the success of similar programs in other areas of Utah and want to give the same opportunity to the teen parents in our community. Everything we do at Root for Kids is aimed at helping children and families reach their greatest potential, and we know this program will do just that for these young parents and their children.” 

What specifically do you learn? 

Topics that may be discussed at the Bloom and Grow meetings include exercise and nutrition, what to expect during and after pregnancy, women’s health, baby care, infant massage, CPR, attachment, bonding, family planning, and more. This group is a great place for young parents to connect with other parents. It will be a safe place for parents to ask questions and learn about the many resources available to them and their children in our community. Healthy food will be served at every class. Participants will receive free gifts for themselves and their child. 

Who is this open to? 

The classes are open to all teens and early twenties parents.  

When are Bloom and Grow classes available? 

The classes are available starting now. Classes are held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at Root for Kids 2044 S Mesa Drive. from 4:30-6:00 PM.  

If you know someone who may benefit from the Bloom and Grow Teen Parenting Class, fill out our referral form here or give us a call at (435) 673-5353, ext.107.

Thank you.

Bloom and Grow would not be possible if not for Three Corners Women’s Giving Circle for giving us our foundational funding. We thank them for their generous support.

Who are we? 

Root for Kids (previously known as The Learning Center for Families) is a non-profit organization located in Southern Utah that provides services for children and families in need of extra support. We help families create a nurturing environment for optimal growth and development for each child. Since 1993, Root for Kids has served over 16,000 families through Early Head Start, Early Intervention and Parents as Teachers home visiting programs, and Kindermusik classes, in Washington County, Utah and the Arizona Strip. Root for Kids also provides Early Intervention services in San Juan County, Utah. All services are based on eligibility and are provided at no cost* to the families. 

*Income eligibility for some programs is waived for families under 180% of Federal Poverty Guidelines or who have other extreme special circumstances. Applications for services are taken at any time as our programs are offered year-round. **Data from 2016-2017 Annual Report. See full report. Root for Kids does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, color, race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, political belief or disability. Transportation reimbursement is provided to assist families with program participation.



Returning to an in-person event after our 2020 virtual edition was a big task to ensure the safety of ourselves and our guests. Couple that with record breaking attendance, and the task became monumental. However, with the help of many volunteers and our staff, we managed to make a safe and unforgettable evening at the Dixie Convention Center where good times were had by all.

The Secret Garden Gala 2022 took place on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Dixie Convention Center with the support of 21 sponsors and 275 guests. This was our first year at the new venue, as we had outgrown our previous spaces. The new accommodations proved to be essential for the spirited silent and live auctions, raffle, catered dinner and main program- with some very special guests. See how The Secret Garden Gala 2022 came to life.

The Main Program

At 5 PM we began our social hour and started the silent auction. Dinner was served soon after, and Tyler Hunsaker and Fred Walker, our returning Emcees, welcomed the crowd. We were then offered an insightful message from our past Board President, Dr. Ellen Arch. Our annual awards followed afterward and led right into a very special video about our work here at Root for Kids, which you can watch here. As if emotions weren’t running high enough after that, we then had a special performance by Madi’s All Star Dance Group that brought absolute joy to the audience. Closing the night, an absolutely raucous live auction that raised money for our enrolled families at Root for Kids.


 The Awards

We couldn’t be more honored to recognize our award winners for The Secret Garden Gala 2022:

  • Outstanding Community Partner: Associated General Contractors
  • Outstanding Business: InfoWest
  • Outstanding Health Partner: Jeremy & Laurie Scholzen
  • Outstanding Volunteer: Dixie State University Nursing Program
  • Outstanding Donor: Larry R Hansen
  • Debbie Justice Legacy Award: US Representative, V. Lowry Snow

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for the continued and enduring support you give to support our mission at Root for Kids. 



Our Generous Sponsors

A special thank you to our platinum and presenting sponsor, Litehouse. The generosity of their donation provided us with an incredible foundation to build on for the funds we raised the evening of the gala. We enjoyed having representatives from Litehouse join us on-stage in recognizing our annual community award winners. It means so much to have Litehouse as a donor, a friend and proponent of our mission since 2018. 

We had 21 amazing sponsors supporting The Secret Garden Gala 2022, and the event wouldn’t have been the success that it was without their contribution. Stephen Wade Auto Center, John A Gullo and Family and the Hurst Wood Education Foundation were our gold sponsors. Snow Jensen & Reece Attorneys at Law and Watts Construction were our silver sponsors.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank these generous businesses in our community:

Litehouse representatives present Utah State Representative V Lowry Snow with the Debbie Justice Legacy Award.


A Huge Thanks

We had some massive help making the event such a successful night. Our friends Fred Walker and Tyler Hunsaker served as the emcees for the night, providing lively commentary and some big laughs. Leslie and Ralph from the Dixie Convention Center coordinated and decorated our event flawlessly. Kris Archer from Bougie Balloons added some serious flair by bringing in ornate balloons and décor for display. And finally, our staff who worked tirelessly up to the last minute. Everyone who worked behind the scenes made the Garden Room picturesque from floor to ceiling and deserves a huge thanks!

What’s Next?

Our 2nd annual Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament is right around the corner, happening on Friday, October 21, 2022. Golfers will enjoy 18 holes of golf, 9 holes during the day and 9 holes after sunset. Golfer can purchase mulligans and raffle tickets, and will enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner and a bag of glow in the dark swag.

If you are interested in taking part, we will be putting tickets on-sale soon. If you are interested in sponsoring our event, please contact Monica Jones at or at (435) 673-5353.