SANFORD — The snow was deep ”“ knee-high for most adults ”“ and so very high for 3- to 6-year-olds ”“ and it was the heavy, wet kind that is just about perfect for making snowmen.

It was 45 degrees ”“ or more ”“ in the city on Saturday. The sun was shining, and some folks shed their jackets to feel the warmth on their arms. But there was plenty of snow and plenty of enthusiasm from the youngsters who stopped by Gowen Park to take part in the Snowman Extravaganza.

The snowy event was a project of Sanford Parent Leadership Training Institute, an initiative that teaches parents and others the leadership skills they need to advocate for children.

The objective was pretty simple: Stop by, build a snowman, drink some hot cocoa and have some fun.

So the kids trudged their way across the snow, rolling snowballs as they went, making short snowmen, and taller ones ”“ four or five snowballs high.

“Rolling it was the funnest part,” said 3-year-old Emma Cormier.

Her brother Evan, 4 1/2, said he liked what he was doing ”“ and claimed it was the first snowman he’d made.

Kristen Wiegand, the site coordinator for the Parent Leadership Training Institute, said the Snowman Extravaganza was a way to introduce the group and its mission to the community.

“It’s a way to let people know of opportunities for parents,” said Wiegand. “We want to reach out to the greater Sanford area.”

Funded through Sanford’s grant from the Nellie Mae Foundation, PLTI graduated its first 14 parent leaders in June 2013. They completed a 20-week training program, learning a variety of skills and examining a wealth of topics, including “Creating a Caring Community for Children,” “Using your Voice,” “Social and Economic Trends Affecting Children and Families,” “What is Public Policy” ”“ and a whole lot more.

Wiegand said PLTI will be looking for more people ”“ parents and non-parents alike ”“ to take part in classes that begin in the fall.

Emily Sheffield was one of the 14 who graduated from the program a year ago.

“I loved it. It was intense training. It was a lot of fun,” said Sheffield. “It was a huge confidence-builder.”

Sheffield said she’d been feeling like she was “just a parent” before she took the classes.

“I didn’t feel like I had much of a voice,” she said.

Now, she does.

“It gave me a voice to be an advocate for my children, and all children,” she said.

Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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