Community leaders, children’s advocates, caregivers and scores of children descended on AutoZone Park last week to observe Early Childhood Day in Memphis and Shelby County.

Led by Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, a strong advocate of early childhood initiatives, the celebration included the announcement of the opening of the first of several “Bright Spaces” in Memphis, well-equipped playrooms in facilities for homeless families.

While the adults in the crowd sweltered in the muggy morning heat, the children, unfazed, plopped down on the concrete and scrawled messages on poster board to a special group – the estimated 350 homeless children who were destined to sleep in local emergency shelters or in one of Memphis’s half-dozen transitional housing facilities that very night.