Monday, February 23, 2009

Denton HIPPY, by Amanda

Hi! My name is Amanda and I'm the VISTA for Texas HIPPY in Denton. :)

My Dad and I

A little about me, I'm a nerd and avid crafter. I sew, knit, crochet, macramé, and more. Books, bad tv, movies, music, and zombies are passions of mine. I am known for going camping, playing games, and dancing. Most importantly, I love my family very much, including my only child Dorris, a 3 year old gray cat.

I'm a bright-eyed college graduate from the University of North Texas. I received my B.A. in History with a minor in German last December and I'm excited to do my first full-time work with Texas HIPPY. When I first applied to be a volunteer with Americorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), I only had a vague idea of what I was getting into. In simple terms, Americorps is like Peacecorps but its here in the states and the VISTA branch focuses solely on poverty and what we can do to create or expand sustainable programs to eliminate it. We apply for assignment to programs and when accepted, are immersed completely in the community so that we may better serve it as a whole.

One of my advantages, is that I'm already involved with the Denton community! I moved from around Austin to Denton in 2004 to start college and have been a Dentonite since. While in school, I volunteered with America Reads, a literacy program that served certain schools in Denton I.S.D. My class was composed of a wonderful group of kindergarten students from Newton Rayzor Elementary, and I miss them dearly. They were my inspiration for applying for the VISTA position here in Denton and I look forward to helping set up a program that will aide more children with realizing their full potential long after I'm gone.

Our program, Texas HIPPY (Home Instruction of Parents of Preschool Youngsters), is growing close to my heart. Sarah has a great description of our program here. For me, it is so interesting to see how our program actually relates back to the original program founded in Israel. Since then, it has evolved into an international community for school readiness. But why care? Mainly because there's so many benefits from letting HIPPY in your community. Its not just about children, its about families becoming self-sufficient together. Parents learn to be teachers and advocates for their children, along with making connections in the community with volunteers and other parents. Children are more confident as they enter school and have the resources at home to continue success.

The HIPPY mission statement is:
HIPPY programs empower parents as primary educators of their children in the home and foster parent involvement in school and community life to maximize the chances of successful early school experiences. HIPPY USA supports the development and operation of programs in communities across the United States through ongoing program development and technical assistance informed by research and public policy.

HIPPY helps parents empower themselves as their children’s first teacher by giving them the tools, skills and confidence they need to work with their children in the home. The program was designed to bring families, organizations and communities together and remove any barriers to participation that may include limited financial resources or lack of education.
I think HIPPY can be a very important asset to every community, and it is my goal to see this happen in Denton.