HIPPY receiving national attention

Parent-educators Tenice Copeland, left, and Ella Pope, with students at the October parent meeting.

CLEVELAND TINKER/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.

The Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program at Williams Temple Church of God in Christ is doing great things with the families it serves.

And, it also is receiving national attention.

"The Gainesville HIPPY program is the only faith-based HIPPY program in the nation," said Yolanda Hagley, the local HIPPY project coordinator. "It is being looked at as a model to be duplicated in other communities throughout the nation."

Hagley said the program currently has 120 students in the Gainesville/Hawthorne area. The program's mission is to empower parents to view themselves as their child's first and foremost teachers and to provide parents with the tools and resources they need to educate kids at home.

"By working with the parents to help them teach their children basic skills that will enhance the child's school-readiness, we hope to impact the community as a whole in a positive way," Hagley said, adding that the program's parent-educators play a big role in the success of the program.

They are the ones who go into the homes and work with the families.

The program has been able to grow with the help of a lot of supporters, said Hagley. The program currently has 60 children and four staff members, thanks to an $80,000 grant from the United Way of North Central Florida Success By 6 Initiative, and $14,700 has been provided by the Santa Fe Community College East Gainesville Initiative for an additional 10 students.

Williams Temple has donated office space that HIPPY will move into in December inside the new D.R. Williams Event Center, formerly Greater Bethel AME Church at the corner of NW 6th Street and 7th Avenue.

Hagley also said that with the help of former state Rep. Ed Jennings Jr., 20 new computers, printers, modems, software and one year of free Internet service were given to 5-year-old HIPPY graduates last year, and the Junior League of Gainesville has supplied more than $15,000 in in-kind support, which includes money for trips to museums and ballets.

Hagley said the local HIPPY program is participating in a study being conducted by the University of Florida Department of Child and Family Studies to track the progress of local HIPPY students.

At the October monthly parent meeting held last Wednesday at Lincoln Middle School, parents sat in on a presentation by Pam Shamal of WUFT-TV, who talked about different programming for children on the station.

Parents attending the meeting talked about how the program has benefited their children.

"I think the program is great," said Willy Cosby, the grandfather of 3-year-old Seiiona Peeples, who is in the program. "It is a great way to get the children ready for school."

Kanch Matthews also thinks the program is serving a good purpose. "They have wonderful field trips, books and pamphlets" said Matthews. ‘‘The kids also learn to love books. They just help us give the children a good head start in their education."

Hagley said students 3 and 4 years of age must complete 30 weeks in the program in order to graduate and students 5 years old must complete a 26-week program. The program had 121 graduates last year.

For more information, call (352) 219-2170 or (352) 331-0769.

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