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Preparing children for the future

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Braxton Hollon carefully pulls out a toothbrush from its spot at the toothbrush pull game during the Head Start readiness carnival.
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Jade Ellis practices her aim in the bean bag toss at the Head Start readiness carnival. Head Start hosted the event to celebrate the readiness of children in the program who will be transitioning into kindergarten.

By LEANA CHOATE - lchoate@newsexaminer.com

Children in Head Start celebrated readiness for kindergarten with a carnival. They played games including a book walk (similar to a cake walk), 1K, a beanbag toss and a toothbrush pull.

“This carnival is a fun way to help these kids with certain skills,”  Kathy Ammerman, early childhood educational coach, said. “All the games we have here center around different skill sets. We have the 1K which is for health, the book walk where the kids can win a book. It’s just fun for the kids.”

Children won prizes at each game station and celebrated their winnings by showing them off to their parents, guardians or anyone within yelling distance.

“Check out my spider,” Braxton Hollon, a winner at the toothbrush pull, said, throwing his small rubber spider at people. “He’s so cool.”

Children in the Head Start program will be transitioning into kindergarten. Thursday’s Readiness Carnival, at the John H. Miller Community Center in Roberts Park, 2900 Park Road, included children ages three to five and their families. 

The goal of Fayette County Head Start, 306 W. 16th St., is to prepare children for kindergarten and beyond. That includes academic, social and health readiness as well as parent education and engagement, Kelly McCullum, Fayette County School Corp. director of early childhood, said.

“My goal is to provide our Head Start families with as many positive, healthy activities and engagements as possible,” McCullum said.

The Fayette County Head Start is free for families whose income meets income guidelines, ranging from households of three whose income is less than $21,330 a year, to households of seven whose income is less than $39,010 a year. To check out the income guidelines, go to aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines.

“Each family has a strong network of support: family service coordinator, health coordinator, and licensed classroom teacher,” McCullum said.

Nationally, Head Start started in the 1960s as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. It operates under a federal grant.

“Our community partnerships play a huge role in the program’s success. For over 25 years the community has supported Fayette County’s Head Start program,” said McCullum, a veteran teacher who is in her first year as early childhood director. “I feel extremely lucky to come into such an established program and hope to continue to grow those partnerships and develop more. Our families deserve the best of us, of our community.”