A back to school party at the newest Talk/Read/Succeed! location
Parents at Springfield Housing Authority’s Duggan Park Apartments lined up to register for Talk/Read/Succeed! while their children did fun things like play a literacy roulette game and see and learn about live, exotic animals, among other things.
On a sunny August afternoon, the back-to-school event at Duggan also featured a cookout, dance music, face painting, and even a jump roap session outside the T/R/S! office at the family development in the Indian Orchard section of the city.
Parents agreed that T/R/S! at Duggan – it is the third SHA development to have the family-based literacy program – is going to be a good thing. Children said the event was a fun way to get to know new neighbors and friends.
“I am very interested in this program,” said mother of two Yaneth Rivera, who took the time to register her family for T/R/S! as she enjoyed the music, entertainment, and food.
“It looks really great, and everything I’ve been hearing about it is great,” she said.
T/R/S!, a family-based early literacy program, is in its eighth year at two SHA developemtns, Robinson Gardens and Sullivan Apartments, and their feeder elementary schools, Dorman and Boland. This summer, Duggan Park and Indian Orchard Elementary School launched a partnership along with other community partners, including the Springfield School Department and the City Library, Head Start, the Eric Carle Museum, and Behavioral Health Network.
Daisy Gomez is the T/R/S! outreach coordinator at Duggan, and is busy lining up programs and events that will help support families, with an ultimate goal of financial independence. On tap for the fall will include nutrition classes, a job club, and events that bring parents and children together for fun and enlightenment.
“Everyone is excited here at Duggan,” Gomez said. “All of the families will be able to participate in our program.”
Duggan is the largest of the three T/R/S! developments, with 196 families, including 450 children.
The open house ran on a sunny summer day, with families gathered out behind the T/R/S! center at 435 Goodwn St.
SHA Executive Director William Abrashkin was on hand to welcome families to the celebration, and to the programming that will follow soon.
“We know T/R/S! works because we’ve been running it for several years,” Abrashkin said. “We are thrilled to be adding Duggan to our sites, and to the partnership with the Indian Orchard school.”
Partners and vendors worked at tables where books, writing materials and even jump ropes were passed out to children, and information was given to parents.
“Our goal is to promote literacy and to let families know we’re here,” said David Feinstein, literary educator at the Amherst-based Eric Carle Museum. He ran a roulette wheel that rewarded winners with books, stickers, pencils and more.
Other vendors included Boston Medical Center, Head Start and the Adult Literacy Program at SHA.
Parents agreed that they have high hopes for the program.
“So far, so good,” said Johniell Muniz, who was helping his stepsons pick out backpacks and supplies for the upcoming school year. “Today is fun. We’ll definitely want to be involved in more.”
Mother of four Yvonne Bernadeau has lived at Duggan 10 years, and loves the idea of a partnership that will include schools and home.
“It sounds awesome,” Bernadeau said. “Count us in.”
Merary Espada is the mother of five young children, and has already forged ties with Gomez and the new T/R/S! center.
“I’ll be coming here whenever possible,” Espada said. “This is great. I’m getting to know everything they’re doing, and I’m looking forward to it.”
The afternoon also featured a visit by the Forest Park Zoo on the Go, with Educator Ben Stafford and Outreach Coordinator Savannah Marcotte showing and explaining a roster of animals, including Apollo, a Moroccan cockatoo, three Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and two African pigmy hedgehogs.
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