CHICAGO – What feels like playtime is serious learning, especially for young and vulnerable children South side of Chicago.
“Here at this particular center, we probably work with about 50 percent of families experiencing homelessness,” said Aminah Wyatt-Jones, vice president of children’s programs at Ada S. McKinley Community Services.
Aminah Wyatt-Jones knows there are many more children who would benefit from an early childhood program like Heaven’s Learning Garden in Auburn Gresham. Ada S. McKinley Community Services partners with them to provide federal benefit programs and so much more.
“We really help set people on a single path to lifelong success,” said Wyatt-Jones.
Once children are enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start, that’s when help for the whole family begins.
“It’s not just about housing, it’s also families dealing with toxic stressors that make it really hard for families to live every day. We’re able to offer mental health support, be able to provide an overall safety net for those families to make sure they have all the resources they need to make the family stick together,” Wyatt-Jones said.
Mykela Collins is a family ambassador for Ada S. McKinley, as part of a new program to locate families in South and West Chicago in need of help, like we used to.
Her sales pitch mostly tells other families what the early learning center has meant to her and her children.
“The day I walked into that center, it felt like home. My daughter loved the Head Start program she was in. And I think that’s one of the reasons it’s so successful now. My son has learned so much Even through distance learning he engaged and learned so much,” he said.
As the kids dressed up and enjoyed an early Thanksgiving feast on Tuesday, the goal is to bring more kids to the table, giving them a head start in learning, and perhaps a lot to be thankful for, for years to come.