Ensuring a Bright Start for All
With an adventurous spirit, Blessing and Baba Samuel moved from Nigeria to Minnesota in 2013. They had never been to Minnesota before, but wanted to move to be close to Blessing’s brother.
Just one week after they arrived, Blessing gave birth to their son Daniel three months earlier than his due date. With a new baby who spent his first weeks in the hospital and the pressure of adapting to the different culture, the Samuels said they considered packing up and moving back. As things smoothed out and they got through the first winter, they decided to stay and raise their family here.
When it was time for Daniel to begin a kindergarten-readiness program, Blessing tried to enroll him in Head Start’s program. When it didn’t work out, they contacted Think Small, but it wasn’t an option either. Then fate stepped in and Blessing heard about the Parent and Early Childhood Education program at Neighborhood House.
“When we heard the program was only two hours a day, we were skeptical,” said Blessing. “What could they teach my son in such a small amount of time?” She was pleasantly surprised by how warm and friendly the staff were and decided to give it a chance.
That wasn’t the only surprise—when Daniel came to school, he stopped using his voice. While other children were talking and having fun outside, Daniel remained silent. Baba said the staff went into action and came up with a plan: first they would have Daniel see a speech therapist and then they would do a home visit. “He went to the speech therapist and they said Daniel was fine. It was the home visit that changed everything for him.”
“When the staff came over for a home visit, Daniel blossomed!” said Baba proudly. “They did a one-on-one session with him and were very encouraging and patient with him. This is when we saw him blossom, and now he’s a chatterbox!”
Blessing is amazed by what Daniel is learning. He smiles and joyfully tells her and his little sister Esther what he’s learned each day. “He’s learned about animals and numbers and letters! We’re so grateful to the staff there,” she said. “Any child who has a chance to start in this program is going to have a good start in getting ready for kindergarten.”