A partnership between Matrix Human Services
and Spirit of Hope Church has resulted in the opening of a new Head Start Center, providing children ages 3 to 5 years old with free preschool education while also helping to restore and preserve parts of a historic Detroit church.
The Matrix Head Start Center opened in the building this past March. Matrix and Spirit of Hope partnered to bring the Head Start Center up to code, providing much needed investment in and upgrades for the old church.
According to Nolana Nobles Bandy, assistant director for Matrix Head Start, the new Head Start location is "right where it needed to be," and that the Spirit of Hope location provides children with a more natural learning environment. Spirit of Hope's community garden and animals, which includes a pig and a number of chickens, will be used to teach children and their families about healthy eating habits.
Nobles Bandy also believes that the historic nature of the building—its sanctuary was built in 1892 and its annex was built in 1926—is a much better setting for learning when compared to a modern "cookie cutter" building that feels more like an office than a school. She speaks of lighting that has a beautiful glow and the echo of the children's steps, bouncing off the old architecture. "It's something different that sparks curiosity," she says.
Nobles Bandy, who has a Ph.D. in International Psychology and System Design, sees the church as a more comfortable setting for adults, too.
"People act differently when in a church compared to a clinic. It's a natural setting for expressing oneself," she says. "It's like a tree in the yard providing shade. People approach it on their own time when they need it."
The Head Start Center is currently recruiting children for classes, which is free and available to children from any zip code. Enrollment and more information can be found at www.matrixheadstart.org
Spirit of Hope Church is located 1519 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.