A Look at What’s Happening at Stone Soup March

4.16.2012

What an extremely busy March! Programs are running smoothly with many classes, workshops, and activities for children and families. A special thank you to our friends at Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority for your generous donation and continued support of our children’s programs.

Here’s a quick look at what we’ve been up to . . .

Programs

Early Learning Academy received a generous donation of $3,300 from the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, our longtime supporters. Ninety percent of our Early Learning Academy children are able to associate the correct sound to the letters of the alphabet. When asked, “L is for?” the children are able to connect words that began with the letter. Responses include, “L is for love,” or “L is for ladybug,” and “L is for Lion.” Fifty percent of the children demonstrated an understanding of the colors in both English and the Hmong language. For example, red translates into “liab” and purple translates into “tsam xem” in the Hmong language. Parents participated in a nutrition education workshop conducted by the Fresno Community Food Bank’s Nutrition on Wheels. Parents learned new techniques to cook healthy meals that promote healthy lifestyles. Parents walked away feeling very confident and eager to create healthy meals and snacks for their families. One parent said, “I can’t wait to make baked potato fries for my family!”

Play Group children are venturing away from their parents and socializing more with their classmates. During group time, the children greet, shake hands, and are even learning each other’s names. By participating in group activities children are learning to problem solve, share, and take turns, which are all vital skills that will last them a lifetime. Play Group had a WIC Intern this quarter that helped lead a station that encouraged parents and children to eat healthy foods. Parents donated a variety of fruits for the activity, which allowed kids to taste the different flavors. While one child was enjoying a kiwi, his mother exclaimed, “I didn’t even know he liked those!” This is an example that children are adventurous and will continue to surprise us as long as we continue to give them the opportunities.

Strong Families program graduated a group of parents and enrolled a new cohort of Hmong parents in ESL and Citizenship classes. ESL students have expressed that having a supportive one-on-one learning environment encouraged them to speak, practice their English skills. Three parents passed their Naturalization interviews and will soon join the list of 50 plus new American citizens from our program. Parents have brought their children to attend monthly Saturday workshops on topics of higher education to learn about higher education and financial resources. Staff and academic counseling volunteers took a group of parents and their teen children on an educational tour of the CSU Fresno library and campus. This was the first time on a campus for all the parents and student. Parents expressed that they learned new information about college and are looking forward to more education workshops on higher education.

Hmong Parent Leadership Group is proud to announce that May Ngia Vang and Lee Her, both active parents in the group have been honored with First 5 Fresno County’s Hands on Hero Awards! More information to come about these fantastic parents. Parents are gearing up to provide supportive environments at home for children in preparation for the annual Spring testing in the schools. We have seen the growth of parents in their abilities to articulate ideas, thoughts, and opinions that are shared with other parents to increase peer-to-peer learning. For example, during the community forum, one of the parents in our leadership group shared ways in which she engaged her two children in learning activities. She reviews math facts and sight words in the car while taxiing children from one activity to the next. She also shared her family schedule that keeps everyone on task. Many parents commented on how beneficial this forum has been for them and requested forums to take place in the near future.

Partnerships/Collaborative Projects

• Staff participated in a series of trainings and meetings about the new Health Benefits Exchange (HBEX) (part of the Affordable Care Act) and its Board meeting in March. The public meeting hosted presentations from experts and consultants about enrollment and outreach to the public about the development and implementation of HBX system. The system would serve as an online portal to help individuals purchase healthcare insurance plans.

• Staff participated in training about the new Health Benefits Exchange (HBEX) conducted by Central California Legal Services.

• I attended four meetings (of 12) of the FUSD Graduation Taskforce with other community members and district staff to strategize and make recommendations that will help increase the graduation rates of students. Taskforce members will also attend three student focus group sessions to listen to what students have to say about the drop out issue.

• Tong Lee, Vicky Xiong, parent leadership coordinator/volunteer, and I volunteered with other Hmong community members on a Hmong translation project with Microsoft Translator.  In case you missed the news, check it out at http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/technology&id=8584666 .

Funding/Support

• Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority donated $3,300 in support of the Early Learning Academy program.

• UC Riverside Hmong Student Association raised $140 in support of Early Learning Academy program field trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium. Thank you!

Other/News

Stone Soup recently signed onto First 5’s Breastfeeding Friendly campaign. This means that we serve as a safe place in which moms can breastfeed their children.

Upcoming events/activities

• April 12th –FUSD Graduation Task Force meeting @4pm-7pm

• April 13th – Assembly Select Committee Hearing on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, Fresno City Hall Chambers, 1pm to 4pm

• April 14th – El Dorado Park Community Playground Opening Celebration at Wesley Church campus

• April 17th @ 11:30am, Comprehensive Youth Services Awards Luncheon Honoring Kathy Garabed

• April 19th – First 5 Child Abuse Prevention/Hands on Hero Awards Luncheon @ Clovis Veterans Memorial- All Staff

• April 20th 11am- Staff Meeting

• April 21st- Strong Families Family Spring Fair @11am -1pm @ Stone Soup

• April 23rd- Alternative Discipline Workshop for ELA Parents @ 9am

• April 23rd- Demystifying the “Model Minority”: Disaggregating Data to   Promote  Academic Achievement of Southeast   Asian Students event @ 11:30m -1:30pm @ Central Valley Regional Center, Central California Children’s Health      Institute

• April 25th –First 5 Strategic Planning Lighthouse Event @ 1pm-5pm @ Radisson Hotel

• April 26th- The Children’s Movement State of Our Children Breakfast @ 7:30am-9am @  The Loft Events

• April 30th – Campaign for High School Equity Convening in Los Angeles

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