Kids First opens in Calera

CALERA –  A dedication ceremony was held in Calera on Thursday, Dec. 7, for the new Kids First Eagles 21st Century Community Learning and Resource Center for family education and workforce development.

The facility is under the leadership of Cindy Hawkins, who first started Kids First in Alabaster in 2002.

During the dedication ceremony state and local officials talked about the positive impact Kids First will have on the community. Pelham’s American Legion Post 555 also conducted a flag raising ceremony during the dedication.

Hawkins said the flag ceremony was important because children need to learn the important of honoring the nation’s flag at an early age.

State Board of Education Vice President and District 3 representative Stephanie Bell said Kids First will serve an important role in Calera helping kids, parents and adults who need help at crucial points in their lives.

“I’ve seen what Cindy has done before in Alabaster,” Bell said. “This has been a program that’s had the support of the entire community and also elected officials. This program offers hope to people.”

Bell said the new location at 8142 U.S. 31 in Calera, is a great location and will be easily accessible to the public.

Gov. Kay Ivey also sent warm regards to Hawkins and the Kids First family. In a letter addressed to Hawkins, Ivey stated she has “set an example as a positive role model for the community.”

Cindy Warner, Shelby County Schools community education and public relations supervisor, helped Hawkins write the grant that allowed her to expand Kids First.

Shelby County Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks said Hawkins has worked diligently to provide positive influence and leadership for children in Shelby County that go beyond the classroom.

“I challenge the students who pass through Kids First to give more to the world than they take away, and what that does is create hope for the future,” Brooks said.

Kids First Director Cindy Hawkins said the facility will offer an after-school program for students where they can receive tutoring and help with homework. Student will also have access to computers, college and career preparation services, health and nutrition education and service learning projects.

Hawkins also purchased a vehicle that will be used to teach the students important skills like how to change a flat tire, windshield wipers and other basic skills. The facility will also have a recording studio for student interested in pursuing a career as a musician or in the arts.

Hawkins said she is looking for tutors and any volunteers willing to help with the afterschool program. She said carpenters, electricians, mechanics and other trade professionals are also needed to help teach the students about the various trade careers open to them. The after-school program will be Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m.

The facility will also offer Parent Café, which will educate parents about various resources that are available to help them. Parent Café will be every Thursday at 11 a.m.