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Phoenix marks anniversary of program for underprivileged kids

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton meets a member of the Great Start Initiative. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton took 80 Phoenix preschoolers on a climb through a giant play structure Thursday to celebrate the anniversary of a program benefiting underprivileged kids.

Stanton's Great Start Initiative gives underprivileged kids and their families a chance to learn and have fun.

"When a child signs up for kindergarten at one of our inner-city school districts, not only that child, but their family and siblings, all get free admission to the Children's Museum, Arizona Science Center, and some of our other wonderful cultural activities," he said.

Stanton said the program gives kids a chance to enjoy some of the activities that other people may take for granted, like going to places where they can play and learn. He said the iniative gives the kids a head start on the new school year.

"Kids who come to the Children's Museum and participate in the brain expanding activities that they do here, and have a lot of fun while doing it, are kids that are going to be better prepared when they enter school," he said.

The city also provides free transportation to bring the families to the different attractions.

The Great Start Initiative is a joint effort with the City of Phoenix Human Services Department's Head Start Program and the Greater Phoenix Urban League.

About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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