Helping Children Succeed

by Don Pologruto, FYCC Department Manager
Walking up Ellis toward Taylor it’s hard not to miss the bell tower and neon cross of GLIDE. For decades this corner of the Tenderloin has been associated with Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, the free Meals Program and Sunday Celebration.

Over the years GLIDE’s reach into the neighborhood has been dramatic–just a bit north of the church is CW House. A half block from the heart of downtown San Francisco, GLIDE transformed a block of Mason Street into a village offering housing for families and single adults.

Twelve years ago, GLIDE took a small industrial building one block west of the church, and transformed into a hub of activity for children and families. The Janice Mirikitani Family, Youth and Childcare (FYCC)  building created a safe, fun, and healthy environment for low-income children and families.

From the very beginning FYCC’s mission was to provide continuity of care and well-rounded programming designed to support children and families.  GLIDE offered free or low-cost childcare so that parents could maintain employment and/or enrollment in school. This assistance gave families an opportunity to improve their health and well-being.

Several years ago FYCC participated in a major assessment of its programs. After months of talking to families, research and reflection, staff determined that a child’s success and well-being were linked to the ability to read  and staying healthy.  Today, FYCC seeks to empower low income families by offering programs that support children’s literacy and family wellness
Programs that help achieve this goal include:

  • Healthy breakfast, lunch and snacks
  • Visits to the farmers market
  • Health screenings
  • Structured play time
  • Homework assistance
  • Creative arts classes
  • Story telling time
  • Home Work Club
  • Visits to the library
  • Gardening classes

Each day FYCC offers a classroom curriculum that encourages children to eat right, exercise regularly, and enjoy reading. But classroom activities are only part of the solution. Parents have the primary responsibility of making sure children read and stay healthy. Enjoyment of reading and eating healthy food must be reinforced in the home.

To reinforce the role of parents as the primary teacher of their children, GLIDE teaches parents important skills to encourages home literacy and wellness.  FYCC’s Family Resourced Center is a neighborhood initiative offering classes, workshops and trainings that focus on improving literacy and wellness.
•    Cooking classes stress the importance  a fresh fruit and vegetables in children’s diet
•    Jumpstart classes model  parent and child interactive reading activities
•    Parenting classes instruct parents in useful parenting skills.
•    A nutrition class offers guidelines to creating a healthy balanced meal.

Since the beginning, FYCC has provided a critical resource for families, many of whom would not otherwise be able to afford childcare or other family support services.   The children, youth and families served by FYCC represent a broad spectrum of ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity. In the midst of this diversity, FYCC families join together for one goal; to ensure that children will succeed. FYCC is an important ally helping parents achieve that goal.