This summer, Head Start, a program created under Lyndon B. Johnson as a cornerstone of his war on poverty, turns 50. Head Start lays a foundation for future success by providing comprehensive early childhood education to at-risk children, preparing them for kindergarten and charting the course for future success.
I know, because I was a Head Start child.
In my early years of life, my mother went back to school to get her nursing degree, and my father made a living as a logger. I did not know it until I was an adult, but my young parents struggled at the time, living paycheck to paycheck to support our family. They knew they had to do something to better my life, and their own. So they enrolled me in the Mancos Head Start program.
At Mancos Head Start, I had the chance to learn key school-readiness skills and interact in a classroom environment. The teachers and staff members also gave my parents the tools they needed to get back on the path to self-sufficiency and be the best parents they could be. With the support of Head Start, my mother finished her nursing degree, and my father subsequently received his paramedic certificate.
Head Start helped me see the value in education. Today, I have my bachelor’s degree, and I’m working toward obtaining my master’s degree in mental-health counseling.
My experience at Head Start has brought me full circle, and today, I work as the program support aid and family services assistant at the Tri-County Head Start based out of Durango.
Head Start was life-changing for my family, and during the last 50 years, the program has ensured millions of vulnerable children have access to quality early learning. So, thank you, Head Start, and happy 50th birthday. Let’s ensure future generations receive the same opportunity I did through continued access to this invaluable program.