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WASHINGTON-CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica is hitting the airwaves, hoping to bolster interest in CUNA’s new `Thrive by Five’ preschool financial education materials. “Parents who don’t take steps to teach their preschoolers basic spending and saving concepts and values are leaving it up to strangers, chance, or television,” Mica said in taped radio interviews. He explained that children can form lifelong attitudes and behaviors by five years old. He also points out that advertisers target children between four and 12 with over $12 billion in advertising a year and the average child views about 20,000 television commercials a year. Kids in that age group also spend $35 billion a year and influence their parents spending by an estimated $188 billion. “Instilling concepts, ideas and values at that early age can be very helpful later in life,” Mica said. “It puts kids on the right path and helps prevent bad habits from forming that can really cause serious money problems when they reach their teens or college years.” Mica taped interviews earlier this month with 15 radio stations in major media markets, including Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Memphis, Buffalo, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, and parts of Florida. “The taped interviews we’ve lined up, together with a radio news release on the Thrive by Five program already in circulation, are expected to reach a combined audience of at least 10 million consumers,” CUNA Senior Vice President of Communications Mark Wolff said. “In virtually every instance, we have been able to point parents to free materials on the CUNA Web site and emphasize this unique aspect of credit unions’ commitment to youth financial education.” The Thrive by Five materials include free activities to download to teach young children how not to lose money and how money is used to buy something, among other things. CUNA developed the program with a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation and additional funds from the Ohio and Texas credit union foundations. The materials were developed by a special task force of credit union and Cooperative Extension educators and reviewed by experts in child development. They were then tested with three focus groups of parents and preschool children. – [email protected]

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