New D'Iberville Head Start replaces what Katrina destroyed

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - It's about giving more young children the chance to learn. On Wednesday, the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency dedicated a new Head Start Center in D'Iberville. Officials say it's taken five years, but the Head Start is the last of four built to replace what Hurricane Katrina destroyed.

Books. Toys. Art supplies. Head Start center manager Patricia Yennie gave parents a sneak peak of where their children will be going to school.

"It's full of brand new supplies, materials, and equipment," said Yennie. "Hands-on is absolutely what the children need."

The Head Start program tries to meet the educational needs of underprivileged three and four- year-olds. Officials say the learning that will go on in the eight-classroom facility in D'Iberville will also help children develop socially and emotionally.

"It actually means for the children in  the Biloxi-D'Iberville area that we won't have to worry about them missing on an opportunity for early childhood education," said Linda Harvey-Irvin, Head Start Director. "That's so extremely important for all our children that we serve. Unfortunately, we cannot get to everyone, all of the families that are in need. But for the 160 children in this area that we are able to serve, it means that every year now they will have a place to go."

The new Head Start was named in honor of the late Dr. Gilbert R. Mason, Sr., a Civil Rights pioneer and community activist. His family says he helped form the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency and its Head Start program.

Dr. Gilbert Mason, Jr. said, "He knew that nurturing at a very early age was very, very important. As a physician, he knew it by virtue of his training. So in addition to wanting to support this type of thing at the time of the Civil Rights Movement and so-called War On Poverty, this was a gift from heaven."

Head Start officials say the first day of school should be Monday morning. They say about $20 million went into building the four centers.

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