Group time at PRINTS spells fun
For 24 years Jan Booth has been on a mission to help developmentally disabled children. Her biggest challenge over the years has been “to not be able to help all the children in our area that need our help.”
“The biggest blessing has been helping these babies, and working with the parents to help them understand their children and work with them,” Booth said.
The Pearl River Infant Project of Pearl River County is better known as Project PRINTS is a programn designed to help developmentally disabled infants and toddlers to the age of three. Once they reach three, they enter the regular school program. Their problems have a wide range from speech impairment, to down’s syndrome.
PRINTS doors opened in the early 1980’s with Jan Booth, fresh out of college, as director. It was one of 25 programs nationwide to offer services to infants to age five.
The program was initially opened under a three year Federal grant and later received funding through the office of Special Education and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health.
The strong community support made Pearl River County the chosen site for the project. Most notably, support came from the Pearl River Association for Retarded Citizens.
In 1983, when the funding expired, State Representative Terrell Breland spearheaded a drive among lawmakers to support funding the project, and both the state legislature and the Dept. of Mental Health agreed with him that the project should continue.
Research shows that children benefit from early intervention as soon a possible during the first years of life. When services begin early, delays later in life may be prevented or minimized.
“Some of the children I worked with 24 years ago are working at Picayune Industries now,” Booth smiles. “It makes me feel old.”
Jackie Rabion is a parent educator and has been at PRINTS for 15 years. Becky Johnson and Michelle Jablonowski are teacher assistants and have been there for seven years.
“They are just great with the kids and with the parents. It’s a team effort.”