Teaming up to help the people of Oklahoma

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News 9 has a brand new partnership with Sunbeam Family Services. We are working with Sunbeam for the opening of the Edwards Early Education Center and the Community Hope Center. We believe that through this project, we are building brighter futures and making a meaningful difference in the lives of Oklahoma children.

At one of Sunbeam’s preschools, little Jaeleigh ‘cooks’ her favorite meal. Use modeling clay. She is three years old.

“Three and a half out of 13,” jokes his mother, Jaedah.

Jaeleigh is one of approximately 544 children aged zero to three who attend one of Sunbeam’s current early childhood education centres.

“We play with modeling clay, we go out, we paint,” says Jayleigh.

It looks like playing. But according to Sunbeam, everything they do here is intentional to set the kid up for success.

“Our teachers and parents are the architects of a child’s brain because it is 90% developed by age 5,” says Sarah Rahhal, COO of Sunbeam.

“Her learning the tools that she is learning now, I think, reinforces and instills the powerful woman she will one day be,” says Jaedah.

Each class has only 8 children and two teachers. The children stay in the same class with the same teacher the whole time they are here.

“It’s really important for the children because they know these teachers, they feel safe with them,” says Rahhal.

The majority of children here are from low income households, have special needs, are in foster care or raised by grandparents, all research shows that children benefit the most from this type of environment. But it’s not just the children, parents are encouraged to be part of the class and offered support services.

“We know that when parents are successful, their children are successful,” says Rahhal. “So when parents are struggling with unemployment, their housing situation, or their own health, if we can provide a family support specialist to really work with them, set goals, get things done that they want to do, their family will be better off.”

And all of that couldn’t be more important than right now when Sunbeam says even their smallest customers are being impacted by the stresses of the pandemic.

“Children have been more isolated during the pandemic, families have been more stressed,” says Rahhal. “So really work on ways to help kids take care of each other, take care of themselves, do their own deep breathing, take care of their needs in the moment.”

Sunbeam says the number of Oklahomans seeking mental health care has doubled since the pandemic began. Now at 46%. So they have mental health specialists even for infants.

“It’s really about noticing what the child is going through and helping the parent,” says Rahhal.

Now, with the opening of the new Edwards Early Childhood Education Centre, nearly 100 more children and their families will finally be able to benefit from these same services.

Sunbeam spent $2.8 million and two years to renovate the former Edwards Elementary, one of the schools closed by OKCPS under the Paths to Greatness program.

When Rahhal was asked what it was like to see all these renovations going on, she replied, “It’s joyful, it’s just knowing that what we bring here is so important to the people. families we serve.”

Edwards is located in a part of town with a high prevalence of risk factors that Sunbeam programs address.

There are 12 classrooms which will be opened as teachers are hired. many with their own playground.

The gymnasium will be available to the community and will also serve as a storm shelter for students and staff.

The center will also have two mental health playrooms, community office space and a family resource room where they will offer classes for parents, computers and an emergency food pantry. .

“We help them apply for jobs, different housing options, really set family goals so they can live their best life,” says Rahhal.

“I tell you this place is amazing,” says Jaedah.

She certainly noticed how Sunbeam shaped her daughter and their little family.

“I think they teach him to love everyone, and I love that.”

Over the next few months, News 9 will raise funds for the new Edwards Early Education Center. If you want To make a donation go to this link.

And tomorrow and Friday, News 9 and Sunbeam will host a two-day Family Resource Festival. First at Edwards on Thursday, then at the Pierce Early Education Center on Friday.

Families will be connected to over 20 organizations that provide a wide variety of important resources PLUS fun, too, like free face painting and snow cones.

This is from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. each day.


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