This summer Kim Carden of Lake Forest , Nini Lustig of Lake Bluff and Cindy Bean of Highland Park, and 31 devoted volunteers from around Lake County spent 6 weeks enriching the lives of underserved preschool children through LCC's new pre-kindergarten enrichment program, Se Fuerte! Be Strong for Kindergarten.
As Occupational Therapists, Kim and Cindy met while working with NSSED. Both share a love of children and were concerned with the large number of kids they were seeing who lacked the fine motor skills necessary for kindergarten. They believed firmly that with early intervention it would possible to better prepare these children for the tasks of learning.
Kim, who is on the Board of Lake County Cares, shared her vision for an early intervention program with Nini Lustig, the Executive Director, who encouraged Kim to go forward and helped write a grant for the program.
A venue was found through Sandy Anderson, principal at Oak Terrace Elementary School, who gave permission to screen all incoming kindergarteners this spring for kindergarten-readiness. Out of 70 children screened, 20 were deficient in the fine motor skills required to begin writing in kindergarten, and 20 more were borderline.
Through Sandy, Kim reconnected with Cindy who had recently patented the “Write Size Writing System”, an online program designed to help children with writing difficulties. Cindy agreed to help with the program and thus, “Se Fuerte!, Be Strong for Kindergarten”, was born.
The 6 week program, met for two hours, three times a week this summer. 22 children enrolled, and more than 31 volunteers took turns working with the children one-on-one.
Rebecca Wolfe, of Mundelein, is a senior majoring in Early Education at Loras College and felt this was an ideal opportunity for community service as well as valuable experience for her career. Last year her practicum was in a kindergarten class and she also worked with ESL children.
Because friends shared a dream--22 children will have a better chance at learning and 31 volunteers lives have been enriched!
Volunteer Lupita Rodriguez, of Northbrook, is bi-lingual, considering a career change, and happened to see the website announcement of this program and felt it was a way to give back some of the opportunities she had been afforded as a child.