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Giving kids and their families a head start for a healthy start

By Nathaniel Callaway
On February 23, 2017

Above right two girls dance and play together as the music is played in the background. The kids and their families could dance, play and eat during Head Start’s Mardi Gras Ball. Live music was provided by a DJ and volunteers helped with the serving of food. The night was mainly put on to give the kids time to socialize and get to know each other, and give the parents the chance to get to know what Head Start is about.
Nathanial Callaway / The Lion's Roar

The Louisiana Head Start Association is an organization that helps kids and their families around Louisiana with education needs. They serve children of a wide age range. 

“Head Start is a program that raises opportunities for low income families or a family that may need assistance in providing early childhood education for those children and their families,” said Ashanti McLaurin, a family advocate for Head Start and a university alumnus. “We help with all kinds of things, including any health issues and even getting them acquainted with jobs, and anything we can do to help them. It is a non-profit organization and it helps families with their babies and little ones and even teens get an education kinda early, starting them off as early as kindergarten.”

McLaurin talked about the purpose of Head Start’s events, in particular their Mardi Gras Ball that was held at their facility in Robert on Feb. 16.

The Head Start program receives its funding through IN-KIND, where for every five dollars from state funding the organization receives, they match it with one dollar in money or services.

“Because we were affected by the flood, we have something called IN-KIND,” said McLaurin. “Every year we get in-kind from our families coming to participate. Because we don’t get any funds, this support comes from the kids in attendance and how many come. Our IN-KIND numbers are pretty low this year because we just got back to our center in November, so this is an event to just kinda improve some of those numbers and to just give the kids a chance to get to know each other.”

McLaurin also talked about the main benefits of their Mardi Gras Ball and what it does for the community and those involved.

“We have a lot of new kids this year,” said McLaurin. “Because of the flooding, they didn’t even come to school the first day, and they didn’t even know what this was. This was just a way to bring our family together just like SLU Head Start. We have our own kind of intimacy, but we’re all under the same umbrella. We do curriculum planning, planning strategies and all that. A lot of people view us as a daycare, but we’re actually run off of a school setting.”

McLaurin graduated with an education degree and shared what it means to her.

“I got involved with the Head Start on campus and I’ve been wanting to help out ever since,” said McLaurin. “I just really enjoy getting to help these families out.”


Nathaniel Callaway / The Lion's Roar

Nathaniel Callaway / The Lion's Roar


Nathaniel Callaway / The Lion's Roar







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