HIPPY empowers parents to educate their childrenPublished 4:10pm Monday, April 1, 2013
By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist
Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) educates children, empowers families and enriches communities. A home-based, family-focused program HIPPY helps parents prepares their child for school.
“The achievement gap appears well before children enter kindergarten,” said Patricia Strother Arledge, HIPPY coordinator. “Children who begin school having missed critical early learning opportunities are already at risk for failure in school.”
Arledge is a retired teacher from Vincent Elementary with 32 years of experience. She is ably assisted by dedicated women who serve in their territories: Crystal Wilson (Columbiana), Pam Crowder (Vincent) and Kim Juarez (Montevallo and Calera). These women meet with 44 families to help prepare 48 children (ages 3, 4 and 5) for school. For 30 weeks, the women go to the homes and deliver a packet and supplies to parents to help teach their children how to get ready for school.
“It takes a lot of integrity for a parent to realize that they need help,” said Crowder.
HIPPY is funded by the Alabama Legislature through collaborative partnerships with the Shelby County Board of Education, Children’s Policy Council and the Housing Authority. The program began in 2005 and serves Calera, Elvin Hill, Montevallo, Vincent and Wilsonville Elementary Schools. Due to the geographical isolation of the rural areas of Shelby County, there are few existing family services. Shelby County has areas of great wealth but also areas of great need. HIPPY addresses those areas of need.
“HIPPY fills the needs for parents to prepare their child for school by giving them daily tools, skills and confidence to work with them at home,” said Wilson.
The school supplies, storybooks and instruction packets are free. The workers go into the home and teach the parents through role play and instruction early literacy skills to teach their children.
Last year six of the children in the Vincent area were placed in the Advanced Program through their excellent HIPPY preparation.
The program is full for this school year. If interested in next year’s HIPPY program, call Arledge at 669-4780 or shelbycountyHIPPY@gmail.com.
Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.