CADA Head Start: Realizing Dreams and Changing Lives

Every child dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. An astronaut, a teacher, a pirate, or an actress. But some children aren’t allotted the same opportunities to achieve their childhood dreams.

Head Start programs, launched in 1965 under the Johnson Administration as part of the “War on Poverty,” promote school readiness for preschool age children from low-income families. With a special focus on literacy and language, the Choanoke Area Development Association of N.C., Inc. (CADA) Head Start/ Early Head Start Program, prepares economically disadvantaged children and their families for success in kindergarten and in life.

Finding Inspiration to Become an Inspiration

As a child, Regina “RK” Barrett, a CADA Head Start/Early Head Start Program graduate, dreamed of becoming a published author.

That dream became a reality with the publication of her book Ruby Joins the Choir. The book—the first in a collective children’s series—is the story of Ruby who decides to join her church’s choir. “This story was so authentic for me and for who I am, so it was just ready for me to write,” said RK, who grew up under the influence of her church.

The book is “about myself and my childhood and inspired by my daughters,” she explained, adding that her mother, a minister, and her maternal grandmother, played significant roles in her upbringing. In Ruby Joins the Choir, Ruby relies on her Grammy’s guidance to help her achieve her goal.

RK recently honored her CADA Head Start beginnings with a virtual interactive read-out-loud for current Head Start attendees, families and the CADA staff. “RK’s success demonstrates the long-term impact of the Head Start program,” said Christine Stephenson, CADA Early Head Start coordinator. “The advantages of participation in Head Start appear immediately, last a lifetime, and have an impact on other generations.”

A talented writer, RK is also an actress who had a role in the film “Blood Done Signed My Name.” She is also a model, a clothing designer, and owner of Nova Threadz, LLC a signature clothing line. Currently working as a paralegal, RK describes her most exciting role as mom to her daughters, 10-year-old Maddisan and 9-year-old Amira.

RK, who learned to write while in CADA’s Head Start program, finds inspiration from her daughters and from within herself. "I want to write stories that are relatable and encouraging to adults and children alike,” she said. With her first book under her belt, RK has more work ahead saying that readers should expect to read more of Rudy’s adventures.

“Once you uproot and plant yourself, there's more opportunities and resources than there were before,” said RK.