2013 Convention News
Seattle, February 12–15
Children's Fund Hosts Seattle Project
By Tom Delaney
The Host City Project is a yearly activity of the NASP Children's Fund, one of NASP's two charities (with the Minority Scholarship Fund). The Host City Project always involves two components: a charitable contribution to advance the program goals of an educational effort for children and a volunteer day where NASP convention attendees donate their labor for the chosen program.
This year, the Children's Fund Board of Trustees selected Daybreak Star Native American Cultural Center and Head Start Preschool for the Host City Project site. The current facility was developed as a compromise after parts of Fort Lawton were seized by a group of Native American activists, led by Bernie Whitebear, and some celebrities, notably Jane Fonda, in 1970. Daybreak Star is run by the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation and serves an urban, nonreservation population of Native Americans and other families eligible for Head Start. The preschool program serves more than 100 students and also provides home-based services to more than 40 infants and pregnant women. In excess of 90% of the families live below federal poverty guidelines. More than half of the students are dual-language learners and one third have developmental challenges.
The Children's Fund met with Daybreak Star leadership, including Kelvin Frank, PhD, executive director, United Indians of All Tribes; Robert Radford, PhD, administrator of the Daybreak Star Preschool; and Chryssa Best, head teacher. Children's Fund worked within the program goals developed by the Daybreak Star staff. Their goals were: (a) close the technology gap for their students, (b) build a garden for their traditional medicinal herb curriculum for their students, and (c) sew vests the students bead and decorate to wear at their graduation from preschool. Students graduating from the Daybreak Star preschool face entrance into programs that often involve computer-assisted instruction in general education classrooms in Seattle schools. However, they lack exposure to computers at home. Daybreak Star staff wanted to close this gap and also be able to better track student progress and target their teaching. Children's Fund made a substantial contribution ($10, 000) toward purchase of three computer-assisted teaching stations specifically for preschool-age students. The software assists the teachers in assessing the developmental skill acquisition of their students, allowing them to better plan interventions where needed. NASP attendees responded to a Communiqué article and volunteered for the daylong work session. Labor was divided into the construction of planter boxes for the medicinal plant instruction area and sewing of vests for the children to decorate for graduation. Both aspects of the project involved NASP volunteers and Daybreak Star staff and parents working together.
The day was not all hard work, however, and participants were rewarded with an incredible salmon lunch, cooked Native American style over an open fire overlooking Puget Sound. The notoriously bad Seattle winter weather took a day off and the entire day was blue sky and sunshine. Daybreak Star staff said this was because the volunteers were from all over the country, blessing the proceedings (if only Seattleites had been involved, it would have rained). To cap it off, a bald eagle soared repeatedly along the trees at the shoreline. Participants also were treated to a guided tour of the Native American artwork at the facility.
The Children's Fund Board is proud of this very rewarding activity. We hope more conference attendees will join Children's Fund efforts, become members, and volunteer for next year's Host City Project in Washington, DC.
The Host City Project is only one of the Fund's activities, which also include Basic Needs Grants (to give students clothing or other necessities), Mental Health Grants (for curricula to aid school mental health efforts), and Service Grants (for cooperative mental health projects across school and community organizations). The Children's Fund has also donated money this year for Hurricane Sandy relief in the Northeast. The Children's Fund webpage on the NASP website (http://www.nasponline.org/about_nasp/childrens-fund.aspx) explains these and how school psychologists who are NASP and Children's Fund members may access them. When renewing or initiating membership, school psychologists can join Children's Fund by paying the $10 fee. The Children's Fund Trustees hope more of you will join and support these efforts.
Tom Delany, NCSP (Retired), is the Children's Fund Western regional trustee.