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Trident Literacy Program Needs Participants
12/5/2012 1:30:27 PM

Eileen Chepenik - Executive Director of Trident Literacy

By Barney Blakeney


Trident Literacy Association is offering families a golden opportunity, but too few are taking advantage. Executive Director Eileen Chepenik hopes families with pre-school children ages 2-5 years soon will sign up for the association’s Families Learning Together program.

Families Learning Together is a holistic family literacy program that offers adults the opportunity to earn their GED or WorkKeys certificate as the child learns school readiness skills. The program has slots for 20 families, but only four are participating. Unless more families enroll the program could lose its funding.

Learning sessions are held four days weekly Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. During the first three hours the adult and child separate to learn different skills - the adult goes into GED preparation sessions while the child goes into sessions that teach cognitive and literacy skills. During the final hour of daily sessions the adult and child come together for a joint learning activities.

To begin, children are tested to assess their current levels of vocabulary, social and emotional development. The assessment tools have been used to develop a curriculum that best meets the needs of students and to create effective and interactive parent-child activities. These are designed so that caregivers can build understanding of activities that impact the child’s learning.

The goal of the program that began in September, Chepenik says, is to prepare children to be school ready and for caregivers to continue their roles in learning.

It’s an effort to provide families which historically have been disenfranchised access to a no cost preschool and GED program. Participants can include parents, aunts, uncles or even neighbors. Anyone who is a primary caregiver to the child, Chepenik said.

But despite enlisting community helpers such as the Cooper River Public Library, SCETV programming, Publix super markets and other businesses as well as local agencies, organizations and government which provide resources for teaching a variety of skills the response from families has been less than enthusiastic, Chepenik says.

“This is a long term commitment that can change lives for families that experience generations of disadvantages,” said Sandy Fraser, Trident Literacy’s Early Childhood Program’s director. The course of the program runs about eight months. The program will break for the Christmas holiday season Dec. 20 and resume Jan. 2 through May.

Although about midway through the course, Chepenik says families still are urged to enroll and can begin participating in sessions immediately. If more families don’t participate the $65,000 grant from the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy might not be renewed, she said.

Chepenik noted that although the preschool readiness component of the program will break during the summer, adult GED preparation will be ongoing at any of the association’s learning centers.

For information or to enroll call Sandy Fraser at 843-576-9136. Sessions are conducted at Celebration Station, 1935 Reynolds Ave. in North Charleston.




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