August 30, 2004

Kids love new Head Start playground equipment

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The 170 children enrolled in Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Head Start program at 1900 N. Illinois Ave. are sliding down slides, balancing on a bridge and climbing for all they're worth on new play equipment erected this summer by volunteers.

"It took awhile because they had to donate time when they weren't at their regular jobs, but getting that donation allowed us to spend our limited dollars for other things. I'm grateful, and the program director says the children have told her, 'We love the playground -- it's fun.' ""The United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 638, some physical plant employees, their daughters, sons, friends and even an intern spent 335 hours putting this equipment together," said center Director Cathy J. Reed.

Funds for the equipment came from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

SIUC serves 433 children in four main centers and three associated sites in Jackson and Williamson counties. Programs emphasize school readiness with curriculum and activities in language, math, science, art, and social and physical development that give children the opportunity to prepare for local school kindergarten programs. Group activities and games also teach the children such skills as listening, following directions, cooperating and getting along with members of the group.

Reaching out and serving others are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.