Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Published July 31, 2018
WINDOW ROCK—President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez have proclaimed Aug. 16, 2018, as Navajo Head Start Day.
In a proclamation signed July 11, the president and vice president urged the Navajo people to rededicate themselves “to building the bright future we want for our Nation’s children.” The proclamation comes as Head Start programs across the Navajo Nation are enrolling children for the upcoming academic year.
By setting aside a day to honor the Navajo Head Start program, the Office of the President and Vice President is recognizing that the program provides valuable learning environments for Navajo children. In these programs, children can grow in “language and literacy; cognition and general knowledge; physical development and health; and social and emotional development,” the proclamation states.
Navajo Head Start services also provide comprehensive health, nutrition and social services to children and their families, the proclamation states. The services, funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are designed to be responsive to each child’s cultural and linguistic heritage.
“The Navajo Head Start programs are an essential part of ensuring that our children are standing on solid foundations,” President Begaye said. “It’s never too early to start giving our children the tools they need to succeed on every level—physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually.”
Navajo Head Start integrates Diné culture, language and values into all aspects of its services. For example, it has established an immersion program to teach the Diné language to children.
Vice President Nez said the first instance of education for Navajo students begins at home.
“Learning begins at home with the parents. Head Start continues that education and is part of our plan to revitalize our language and culture,” Vice President Nez said. “We must build upon this self-identity to empower the future generations of Navajos.”
The Office of the President and Vice President is encouraging all families to enroll their children in Head Start. Full enrollment is needed to guarantee continued federal funding.
Navajo Head Start services offer substantial benefits for children and their families, the proclamation states.
“When we invest in our young children, the positive outcomes are significant,” it states. “By investing in early education, we can help our children reach their greatest potential and become the best versions of themselves.”