BY C.S. HOWARD HIPPY
Vice Mayor Shellie Freeland Eddie and Mayor Willie C. Shaw are shown with some of the HIPPY graduates.
The Sarasota YMCA HIPPY Program sponsored its 24th Annual Graduation Celebration on Friday, August 26th. HIPPY is a home-based, early childhood education program for three, four and five year old children. HIPPY families work with an educator to their home for one hour a week for role playing activities, reading and writing lessons, and each month the family meets at the HIPPY center for parenting classes. HIPPY home visitors, TaNieka Perry, Maria Romero, Rocio Garcia, Silvia Smith, Tanya Dupont and Lina Bernal help parents become their child’s first teacher. Through these activities, parents become actively involved in their children’s education, develop their early learning skills and create a new, meaningful bond with their children.
On Friday, 130 kids participated in graduation exercises. Forty children who were five years old graduated and will be going on to kindergarten. The three and four years old graduated up to the next age group as they continue in the program.
Greetings at the graduation were brought by Mayor Willie C. Shaw and Vice Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie, Sarasota School Board member Caroline Zucker and Cathy Markowitz from the NCJW Sarasota Manatee. School Board member Bridget Ziegler was also in attendance. A HIPPY parent testimony was given by Noelle Conyer and HIPPY students gave the welcome, pledge of allegiance and the HIPPY song.
Jone Williams is the HIPPY Program Coordinator.