From the Telegraph – Full article here
EAST ST. LOUIS — Jackie Joyner-Kersee, an Olympic legend, gold medal winner and East St. Louis native, thanked Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for its partnership during a ribbon cutting and open house for the SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start center that bears her name.
Approximately 150 people attended the dedication last Wednesday of the new wing at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, which includes the SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center. Cutting the ribbon were Joyner-Kersee and 4-year-old Vertruoz Young. Vertruoz is the daughter of Valerie Elizabeth Young, the 2016 Illinois and Region V Parent of the Year.
Joyner-Kersee and SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Program Director G. Lynnie Bailey were two of several speakers. Some of the special guests included the SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Governance Board, center coordinators, parents and longtime supporters of SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start.
“We are glad to be partnering with you,” Joyner-Kersee said. “If we can plant a seed in young people, then we can stand back and watch them bloom.”
Bailey agreed with the acclaimed athlete.
“The culmination of the SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center demonstrates the importance and wisdom in investing in children,” Bailey said. “In the words of Frederick Douglas, ‘It’s easier to build strong children than to fix broken men.’”
SIUE East St. Louis Center Executive Director Jesse Dixon also commented.
“The university and the SIUE Board of Trustees deserve a lot of credit for approving this lease agreement on an accelerated timeline,” Dixon noted. “The SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start strategy of linking Head Start centers to community-based organizations in East St. Louis is a way for families and children to build long-term relationships within those organizations. Then when Head Start children enter elementary school, those community-based organizations can stay connected to them throughout their school years.”
With a focus on empowering people and strengthening communities, the SIUE East St. Louis Center is dedicated to improving the lives of families and individuals — from pre-school through adult — in the Metro East. Head Start/Early Head Start and a charter high school are among the programs that offer the community renewed hope and an opportunity to reach educational, career and life goals.
The center also assigns first priority to encouraging, supporting and improving the educational success of the residents of East St. Louis and surrounding urban communities. The center provides comprehensive programs, services and training in the areas of education, health, social services and the arts.