Monday, May 18th is the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s announcement of the founding of the Head Start program. This week we are featuring blog posts by Head Start alumni who celebrate the role the program has played in their lives or the lives of their children
I first became acquainted with Head Start about 28 years ago. My son was 3 years old when he was diagnosed with severe autism. As a young parent without much family support, I struggled to make ends meet as I grappled with how to deal with what was then a condition we knew very little about. I was devastated, overwhelmed, and felt as though I had nowhere to turn— until a local Community Action office told me about the local Head Start program.
Head Start not only changed my son’s life, it truly made me a better mother. The teachers and staff were incredible— they facilitated screenings and evaluations, gave him the individualized attention he needed and gave me the tools, resources, and information I needed to help him succeed. The professionals at Head Start began to feel like family, taking pride in my son’s small milestones and encouraging me to pursue my own dreams and goals.
I began to feel empowered. I realized that I could make a difference and advocate for my child. I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge about child development and management systems. I went from becoming a teacher aide to a Head Start Director. Today, I am proud to serve as the President of the Oklahoma Head Start Association.
As I reflect on my journey as a parent, I cannot imagine being where I am today without the truly life changing support of Head Start. In fact, as I celebrate 32 wonderful years of being a mother, Head Start honors a milestone of its own: this week marks the 50th Anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s creation of a federally funded preschool program that would serve the nation’s most vulnerable children. So, Happy Birthday Head Start, and here’s to 50 more years of opening windows of opportunity for all our country’s mothers and children..