Poplarville Head Start celebrate their ‘race’ to 50 years
Published 7:00 am Friday, September 16, 2016
Children sang and former students came together Thursday afternoon to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mississippi Action for Progress’ Head Start program at the Poplarville Center.
Poplarville Center Administrator Carol Avery described the Head Start Program as “a catalyst for change and development of a broad range of programs which meet the needs of the disadvantaged community as well as a mechanism of an increase in parental and community involvement with the children to effect positive change in the poverty conditions characteristic of the Head Start targeted service area.”
Some of the programs that Head Start provides are medical and dental assistance as well as an educational boost.
These services are currently helping over 5,300 children and their families annually across 25 counties in the state of Mississippi, and have helped even more throughout the program’s lifetime.
In 1970, Harvey Nixon, Poplarville area coordinator, successfully started the Head Start program in Poplarville on Raine Street in the community center. At that time, there were three classes serving 18 children each. After nine years at the community center, the program moved to the White Sand Community, which was later relocated in 2008 to its current location off of East Locke Street in Poplarville. The center now serves 57 children.
During the celebration on Thursday, special speaker Dr. Marcus Houston, a former Head Start student, spoke about how the program helped him achieve more than he thought possible.
“In the Bible it talks about how everybody runs a race, but when you run a race, you are running to win it. While you are running, you will always need help along the way because sometimes you will get out of line. You need people to help you stay within the lines and that is what the Head Start program is all about,” Houston said. “When you are a child, you need guidance. The good people at Head Start help your children stay within those lines, just like they did with me.”
Houston is a business owner, minister and has his doctorate in physical therapy.
Houston also shared how the program and its employees are like family and 30 years after graduating from the program, he said his teachers still check up on him to make sure he is “between the lines…”
Alderman Byron Wells also made an announcement during the celebration that other services, in addition to those of Head Start, are available at the Excel By Five building on Pearl River Community College’s campus. He said the center provides books, toys and other free services to the community. Although it is not a day care center, Wells said it is a “great learning center where you can come check out anything you desire and enjoy the material provided.”