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Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (at podium) announces the Phoenix Great Start Pilot Program. (KTAR Photo/Sandra Haros)

PHOENIX -- Children in low-income households will now have access to educational attractions offered by the City of Phoenix.

On Friday, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton unveiled the Phoenix Great Start Pilot Program, designed to prepare children for kindergarten by increasing early childhood development through parent engagement and community education programs.

"Over 90 percent of our students are in poverty," said Superintendent of the Balsz Elementary School District Dr. Jeffrey Smith.

The educational opportunities that exist will now be accessible to the city's poorest children.

"To a child, the world is only as big as their experiences," said Smith. "This will expand the experiences of children before they come to school so they can see more in themselves and their future."

In addition to educational materials for parents, when their child is enrolled in kindergarten in a Balsz Elementary School, the families will be given a Passport to Culture & Education. The free pass includes admission to the Phoenix Zoo, Arizona Science Center, the Pueblo Grande Museum and the Heard Museum.

"They'll learn about Arizona, learn about Phoenix and learn about what they can be and the future they can and how unlimited that is," said Smith.

Stanton hopes to expand the program to benefit more children in the future.

Sandra Haros , Reporter

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