Bilingual Child Development Program Celebrates 25th Anniversary - MetroFamily Magazine
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Bilingual Child Development Program Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Drew Dugan, Greater OKC Chamber; Andrew Norton, Sunbeam Family Services; Dr. Sean McDaniel, Oklahoma City Public Schools; Debi Moore, E.L and Thelma Gaylord Foundation; Kyle Impson, The Chickasaw Nation; Judge Natalie Mai, Oklahoma County District Court.

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Latino Community Development Agency’s (LCDA) Tony Reyes Bilingual Child Development Center (TRBCDC) celebrated its 25th anniversary on May 5 at its Riverside Headquarters on SW 10th Street, when civic leaders, educators and LCDA staff and volunteers joined together to recognize the important milestone and to christen the program’s newest feature, a Nature Explore® Outdoor Classroom.

Guests were greeted with remarks from Dr. Raúl Font, LCDA president, and Paloma Cisneros, LCDA’s director of children’s programs and treated to an on-stage performance by a dozen TRBCDC children. Later, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at the outdoor classroom’s entrance. Guests toured the classroom’s multiple activity learning stations to see how the curriculum integrates recreational play with learning.

Children from the Tony Reyes Bilingual Child Development Center provided attendees with a super performance before the ribbon cutting.
Children from the Tony Reyes Bilingual Child Development Center provided attendees with a performance before the ribbon cutting.

“We actually have two bilingual outdoor classrooms in Oklahoma City, both of which are certified by Nature Explore®, a national nonprofit program, that works with a network of organizations throughout the U.S., with a goal to help nature become an integral, joyful part of children’s daily learning,” states Dr. Raúl Font, LCDA president.  “LCDA continues to invest in kids, and is grateful for a grant for the outdoor classrooms from E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, and the outdoor classroom design plans created by Sunbeam Family Services’ Andrew Norton. As this is our anniversary year, we also want to recognize the important financial support for our child development center programs provided by Potts Family Foundation, Lopez Foods, Inasmuch Foundation and Oklahoma State Department of Human Services.”

Paloma Cisneros, LCDA’s director of children’s programs states: “Many of the children we serve have limited experiences with nature because of their living environment. They are from low-income families, where parents often work multiple low-wage jobs to make ends meet.  We believe that by teaching children about the natural world at an early age they will learn to take care of, advocate for, and have a deep appreciation for nature. We also believe that children need to experience outdoor play in a setting that is guided by a proven curriculum, so that play is that much more meaningful.”

Paloma Cisneros, LCDA; Pat Fennell; Cristina Perez, LCDA; Nina Gonzales.

Both of LCDA’s child development centers are located in south Oklahoma City. One program site provides Early Head Start services for up to 48 children, ages zero to three, and the other site provides early care and education services for children ages three to five, for an additional 45 children.  Both sites have accreditation from the Oklahoma State Department of Human Services, and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

About LCDA – LCDA is a nonprofit organization founded in Oklahoma City in 1991. LCDA’s two-dozen bilingual programs address the unique needs of Latino immigrants and Spanish-speaking persons who relocate to Oklahoma from other states, that collectively represent the fastest growing population sector in the state. Last year, LCDA served more than 35,000 unduplicated clients, a number that rose to over 50,000 when multiple interactions with the same client are counted. LCDA has a staff of 85, located at two different sites within Oklahoma City.

About TRBCDC – Tony Reyes Bilingual Child Development Center was established on June 30, 1997, in memory of Antonio “Tony” C. Reyes, a dedicated child advocate who provided his time to mentoring children at LCDA. Tony wanted every child to have the same opportunity affluent children had, but in a bilingual setting that was culturally and linguistically age-appropriate for them. Sadly, Mr. Reyes was killed in the 1995 Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City. His niece, Nina Gonzales, had the vision for what became TRBCDC, and served as its first paid director.

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