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Head Start gets early literacy library
By MARTIN RAND III

The Brunswick News

Wearing a flowing dress and a flower in her hair, Maryellen Aiken pretended to swim toward a group of young children who were eagerly waiting to hear her read "The Little Mermaid."

As Aiken, or the mermaid Ariel, as the class called her, read, the class at Head Start, 1 Community Drive, Brunswick, smiled and intently listened to every word.

Baby Steps was achieving its goal of getting young children excited about reading.

It also achieved another goal, starting a children's library at the Head Start School.

What once was a plain, gray unused room is now an under-the-sea wonderland, complete with paintings of octopuses, fish and blue waves.

"We had to pull up the carpet, take down some bulletin boards and then we just kept painting and painting," said Aiken, coordinator of Baby Steps, an early childhood literacy program.

The new library is equipped with more than 300 books and one laptop, which will be used as an audio center for children to use read along books.

"You have to start early literacy very early in the education pipeline and there's no better place to do this than at a Head Start program where you have 200 children 3 and 4 years old," said Lee Owen, executive director of Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation, an organization created to improve the quality of life in Coastal Georgia by promoting and increasing philanthropy.

The Head Start program has a student enrollment of 297.

The mission of Baby Steps is to bridge the gap between lower and upper income children by providing lower income children with better access to books and improving literacy.

* Reporter Martin Rand III covers local news. Contact him at mrand@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook, or at 265-8320, ext. 324.



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