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YWCA Greater Baton Rouge's Early Head Start Program holds graduation for young children

1 month 1 week 5 days ago Thursday, May 30 2024 May 30, 2024 May 30, 2024 9:14 PM May 30, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Thursday, 75 three and four-year-old children dressed in graduation caps and gowns took the first steps today to a life of serving and impacting their community. These kids are part of YWCA Greater Baton Rouge's Early Head Start Program.

The program helps pregnant mothers get ready to be caregivers and gives kids aged six months to three years old a head start on success inside and outside of the classroom.

YWCA Greater Baton Rouge CEO Dianna Payton says by starting young, these kids have the opportunity to do much good for their communities.

"The greatest moment of learning in brain development happens from zero to three," Payton said. "So we have that opportunity to engage their lives at six weeks and watch them grow to the age of three."

When the kids reach the age of three or four, they celebrate going on to Pre-K or other early learning programs around the state by having a little graduation.

This year's graduating class of 75 is one of its largest classes ever. The children performed songs showing what they learned, such as different colors and counting. The graduation was decorated with sea animals, as the theme of this year is sailing off into the future.

All the children's parents and families cheered them on from the audience, showing the organization's goal of family support.

"Family is key," Board Chair Kathy Victorian said. "When you see as an adult, when we see our family members in the audience supporting us, I can only imagine what it feels like as a child who is three years old, four years old."

YWCA is a national non-profit that aims to eliminate racism and empower women through means of education, family and community. The Greater Baton Rouge chapter is one of 250 across the country. Over the years, it expanded to serve thousands of its residents.

"We do that through a multitude of services in addition to early head start," Payton explains. "Domestic violence services, workforce development services, homelessness prevention and rental assistance, utility assistance."

In addition to the graduation, the children also had an art gallery, showing everything they learned in the program.

As the graduates grow up, the program wants them to know they will always be rooting for them and will be there if they need.

"My one hope is that they remain healthy, active participants of our great community," Victorian says.

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