Thursday, October 30, 2008

Update! by Sarah

I've been pretty busy being involved with Special Care & Career projects, but I've made some slight HIPPY progress in the past two weeks that I thought I would go ahead and post about.I contacted the National Council of Jewish Women in Dallas, who have been faithful and vehement supporters of HIPPY for many years, to see if they had any tips for starting a program in Carrollton. I talked to Syl Benenson, who is a remarkably helpful lady, and it turns out that she has a friend who is a principal in Carrollton Farmers Branch Independent School District! So she is going to sing our praises to her friend, and hopefully I can set up a meeting to talk with her about the HIPPY program and see if she's interested in getting on board with our cause. Wish me luck!I also attended World Fest in Addison this past weekend and worked at the ECI booth. I made my own flyers about HIPPY and handed them out to people with preschool younguns. The flyers talked about the importance of school readiness and parent involvement, and how crucial the HIPPY program is to the success of young children starting school! I also included some great activities that promote cultural awareness, in keeping with the World Fest theme. Here's that section of it, just in case you have a young child:
We hope you enjoy World Fest 2008!!

*Try these nine ways to share cultural traditions with your young child:
Sing traditional lullabies to your baby.
Display objects or pictures that reflect your culture.
Read stories or fold tales from your culture and tell them to your children.
Share stories passed down from generation to generation.
Prepare foods that represent your culture with your child.
Take pictures of your celebrations and make a family album. Look through it often.
Visit other relatives and encourage them to share cultural practices from their childhood.
Invite friends and their families to share your holiday traditions and celebrations, and invite them to talk about theirs.
Tell your child the meaning of his/her name, if it has one in your culture.

*Greeting Games!
There are many different ways to greet people. Some cultures use gestures and do not use words, like bowing or touching noses. Here is a list of words that say “Hello” in different languages.
Hello (English)
Bonjour (French)
Ni Hao (Chinese)
Namaste (Hindi)
Hola (Spanish)
Jambo (Swahili)
Ciao (Italian)
Guten Tag (German)
Shalom (Hebrew)
Konichiwa (Japanese)

On a side note, I've just started up a new Junior Girl Scouts troop in Carrollton, so I'm excited to be getting involved in the community! I'm also starting to volunteer in my church, and for other community events (like Nature Fest a few weeks ago), so I'm really starting to feel like a member of the Carrollton community. And I voted early! So dare I say that I'm a Texan now? We'll see!

Monday, October 20, 2008

My First Parent Meeting by Sarah

On Friday, October 10th, I visited the Carrollton Early Childhood PTA at Holy Covenant Methodist Church. It was an amazing experience, and all of the parents were extremely friendly and helpful. I gave a brief presentation about the HIPPY model and my goal to start a HIPPY program in Carrollton. I passed out a flier I made called “The 1-2-3’s of HIPPY”, which listed the philosophy, goals, model and benefits of HIPPY, and asked that anyone who was interested in the program and in school readiness sign up for my mailing list. School readiness and parent involvement are so important for pre-k children, and I’m excited about the HIPPY model and getting a program in Carrollton started. And that can only happen if parents are interested and want it! And from the number of parents that signed up for my mailing list, parents do want it! Exciting!
They also invited me to their 18th Annual Silent Auction on Friday, November 14th, which will be held to raise money for their amazing organization. The CECPTA then uses 100% of the money raised to promote the welfare of area children and their families through parent education, children’s programs, community outreach and family activities. Sounds like a really fun event!

If anyone would like further information about the Carrollton Early Childhood PTA, their website is .

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And Last But Not Least... by Sarah

I've given a little information about HIPPY and about Special Care & Career Services, so it's only fitting that I should also mention the third organization I'm affiliated with: AmeriCorps. At the end of August, AmeriCorps sent me to Denver for a pre-service orientation, where they taught me about what it means to be a "VISTA", and explained the overall goal of the AmeriCorps VISTA program.
AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program of the Corporation for National & Community Service that is specifically geared towards fighting poverty. So every single VISTA's overall goal in the back of their minds is to alleviate poverty, meaning it was important for me to try and understand how my role with HIPPY tied in. Admittedly, at first I didn't really understand how my job at HIPPY was going to fight poverty, but it became clearer as the orientation went on.
So here's yet another way HIPPY can benefit a community!!! Exciting! Many parents don't know how to get their kids ready for school in terms of literacy skills and exposure to learning, resulting in their child failing in school. This can potentially have a domino effect, and dig a hole which the child cannot pull him or herself out of, causing them to get further and further behind in their education. Additionally, the Home Instructors are given an extremely valuable opportunity to obtain job skills, and a college scholarship- a chance to lift themselves out of poverty if they had fallen into it.I also met some great people at the PSO, and it was amazing to be around so many community service oriented young minds! It's amazing to know that so many are dedicated to fighting poverty and helping their community in such unique ways.

Here's a picture of me and some of the wonderful VISTA's I met at the PSO- I know they're all going to do brilliant work in their communities!!!

If you want to learn more about AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Vista, please visit Tell them I sent you ;)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Shout Out to Special Care and Career! by Sarah

I really shouldn't go any further without giving a shout out to Special Care and Career Services, the agency that's sponsoring me and giving me office space and support this year. They're so great! Special Care and Career Services is a non-profit organization that serves people with disabilities. Their Early Childhood Intervention program provides services for children aged 0 to 3 with developmental delays and/or disabilities. Their Supported Employment program helps students with cognitive disabilities transition from high school to the work force, and also helps any other adults with cognitive disabilities find and keep a job. These are such important programs, and they positively affect the lives of hundreds of children and adults in our community every year.Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) serves north Dallas communities including Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Coppell, Irving, Addison, and parts of Dallas and Lewisville. They provide a FREE (absolutely free! Can you believe it?) in-home evaulation to every single child (birth to 3 yrs) in these communities, to try and detect any sign of a developmental delay or disability and to start treatment right away. After the in-depth screening and evaluation process, on-staff experts provide speech, physical and occupational therapy and instruction to the children and their primary caregivers either in the child’s home or daycare facility. Plus, I am especially grateful to Paula Tarver, who really pushed SCCS to help Texas HIPPY by housing me here. Without her work, I wouldn't be here at Special Care and Career! She has taught me so much about ECI and about the community I'm working in. And thanks to Carol Egusquiza, who has also been showing me the ropes around ECI!Supported Employment Services (SES) is another program here at Special Care and Career Services. Employment specialists work with individuals with cognitive disabilities to match them to meaningful jobs in companies needing their skills. Clients of Supported Employment often need help finding a job in the community that fits well with both their own needs and with the needs of employers. With thorough assessment and job development, on-the-job training and continued support, the Supported Employment program assures an optimal placement for both client and employer. What an amazing program! I've been tagging along with some staff members to a few client meetings, and let me tell you first hand that they do an amazing job! Thanks especially to Stephanie Agnew, Roberta Bower, and Helen Robinson for teaching me the ins and outs of SES (mind you, while simultaneously having to get all of their work done!!). All of the staff here at Special Care and Career Services have been so enormously helpful, and the director Cathy Packard asks me all the time if I need anything or if she can do anything to help me with my project. I'm so lucky to be so supported, both from Texas HIPPY and from Special Care and Career!! If you want to learn more about Early Childhood Intervention or Supported Employment Services here at Special Care and Career Services, please go to their website at or just ask me!