This Mother’s Day, as I reflect on my journey as a parent, I cannot imagine being where I am today without the truly life changing support of Head Start. In fact, as I celebrate six wonderful years of being a mother, Head Start honors a milestone of its own: this week marks the 50th Anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s creation of a federally funded preschool program that would serve the nation’s poorest children.
I first became a Head Start parent four years ago. As a single mother of three, I struggled to make ends meet as I balanced the demands of motherhood and earning a living. Luckily, I was able to enroll my oldest daughter, Kylie, in Rantoul Head Start. Those early years instilled in her a confidence and love of learning that has helped prepare Kylie— now a thriving first grader— for success, both in school and in life.
Little did I know, our experience at Rantoul Head Start would turn out to be pivotal, not only to my daughter’s development, but to my own. Head Start fortified my confidence as a mother and gave me the tools I needed to get back on the path to self-sufficiency. This year, after four years of hard work, I earned my bachelor’s degree in social work and today I am proud to sit on the board of the Illinois Head Start Association.
So as I celebrate Mother’s Day this year, I salute Head Start for opening a window of opportunity for my family- as well as for the millions of other mothers and families in the program that it has served over the past fifty years. Head Start has made me the absolute best mother I can be.
Photo credit: Keith Dunlop