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Local Families Get Free Backpacks

Mountain View and other Silicon Valley families share how they benefit from First Five program.

Free backpacks given to families in Silicon Valley participants of the First Five program. Credit Claudia Cruz.
Free backpacks given to families in Silicon Valley participants of the First Five program. Credit Claudia Cruz.
For the third consecutive year, the Mountain View Kiwanis Club and Silicon Valley Lion Club have donated 100 backpacks to Mountain View and other local families.

The families participate in Community Health Awareness Council's (CHAC) First Five program, which focuses on families with children under the age of five to help them develop skills and habits that prepares them for school.

Program Director Maddi Pascua explained that First Five tries to level the playing field between how different cultures encourage early childhood education.

"It's a little bit of both culture and exposure," she said, like in her Filipino culture where parents just think they have to love and feed their children when they are young. "This helps parents understand what they need to expect development of their child."

According to Pascua, the moms part of First Five become a close-knit group and exchange ideas and tips.

At First Five they take an Arts Enrichment class designed to exposed them to skills their kids need, like sharing, routines and singing. Another class is a parent-only one on early language literacy class.

Several moms expressed how First Five has benefitted them and their children.

"It helped me because my son didn't speak much and [First Five] helped find a speech therapist," said Lorena Morales, mother of a Bubb Elementary School student. "You learn how to better advocate and educate for your children."

For Yolanda Soto, the free backpacks allows her to save money—especially since they come with several school supplies. 

A state program administered through the county, First Five has been a CHAC program since 2006. It services Latino, Chinese—primarily Mandarin speakers—and South Indian families not only in Mountain View, but also in Sunnyvale and Cupertino. It's located at 748 Mercy St.

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