STORIES OF MAKING LIFE BETTER FOR KIDS WITH CANCER
Zinnia finds fun and learning
Meet Zinnia. She’s three years old and she loves circle time and playing with her friends at ASK’s First STEP (Socialization Through Enriched Play) preschool program.
First STEP is one of only two preschool programs in the country specifically designed for young patients, survivors and their siblings. The program is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, which wouldn't be possible without the partnership support of First Baptist Preschool, who is also celebrating its 70th anniversary.
Zinnia’s brother, Wilson, went through cancer treatment for Stage 3 Neuroblastoma at age three. He attended First Step after finishing treatment and is now a third-grade honor roll student who loves to read.
“The preschool teachers are wonderful caregivers and [make] positive impacts on the children,” says their mom, Sarah. “Wilson and Zinnia both enjoy weekly ASK activities that help them to become confident, outgoing and caring individuals.”
Teachers Ellen Kittrell and Jane Gordon help to make the program a safe environment so children with cancer (and their parents) can have some normalcy in having a place to go outside of clinic.
"I have been a preschool teacher at First Baptist Preschool for 23 years and feel so privileged to be a part of the First Step program,” Ellen says. “We provide a unique preschool class for children with cancer and serious blood disorders with emphasis on socialization that is so lacking during treatment. While we focus on each child's individual needs, we provide a specialized program in a fun and nurturing environment.”
Our families don't have to worry when they're at First STEP. In addition to have having teachers who understand what a child with cancer has been through, the program is free. Our hearts are full this Valentine's Day thanks to our generous donors who are helping to make life better for children with cancer in our community!
Pictured below, Ms. Ellen mixes up fun with learning as the preschoolers make artificial snow.