The Tampa Y – and our Neighborhood of Promise partners – believes every child can succeed when given the right tools and support.
Almost two years ago, we began pulling together a team of partners that could offer a comprehensive plan for success in Sulphur Springs. Together, we have developed a pipeline, or path, to success. This pipeline spans birth to college/career and closely aligns education to social services, with the idea being that when children’s safety, health and wellness needs are being met, they’re free to focus on learning.
We focused our initial efforts on children attending Sulphur Springs Elementary. The Tampa YMCA’s Sulphur Springs Community Learning Center (CLC) provides elementary students with a safe and secure environment for afterschool and summer programming. Students participate in hands-on and engaging skill-building activities. Additionally, the CLC provides support for teachers, ranging from acting as liaisons with parents to providing thanks during teacher appreciation days.
Our efforts at Sulphur Springs Elementary led us to our next phase – addressing the pressing needs of our youngest community members. Too many children are entering kindergarten at Sulphur Springs Elementary unprepared, playing catch up the minute they step foot into their classrooms. We know this strong developmental foundation is critical to students achieving future educational success.
The result is Layla’s House, an early childhood community learning center that will provide parents and children – from birth to 5 – with child development workshops, parent support groups and parent-child literacy programs.
And there’s more early childhood services to come, including a potential partnership with the City of Tampa to utilize its Bartholomew Center for additional childcare/preschool space; increased outreach, training and support to family childcare providers in the Sulphur Springs community; a push to get more local children involved in the neighborhood’s Head Start program; and Voluntary Pre-K summer programming at Sulphur Springs Elementary.
Our efforts to create a healthier Sulphur Springs also include an obesity prevention initiative funded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation (BCBSF), a separate, philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc. Through their Embrace A Healthy Florida initiative, BCBSF is partnering with the NOP to address the causes of childhood obesity in Sulphur Springs, then create programs that address those causes.
We’re also working on a middle school mentoring program that provides a safety net for transitioning fifth graders and improved access for families to receive health services.
We’ve come a long way in just two years, but there’s much more work to be done.
Our pipeline has many phases – and each phase is important to our plan. We won’t fall short of excellence.