Leah Ward

Leah Ward
President and Chair
Email Leah Ward Email Leah Ward

506 W. Monroe Street
Okolona, MS 38860

William J. Raspberry
Founder and Visionary

A Message from the Founder

Educating and Encouraging Parents are Keys to BabySteps Success

Our goal for BabySteps is to make sure that young children from at-risk families are socially and educationally ready for entrance into kindergarten. We do this in two primary ways:

  • Training parents on ways to enhance their infants and preschoolers’ pre-literacy and language development skills; and

  • Providing literacy-based enrichment activities for toddlers (ages 1 and 2) and preschoolers (ages 3 and 4).

Parent’s Education

Research informs us that parents are the most significant persons to advancing the growth and development of young children. Thus, if parents know and put into practice specific ways to nurture their child’s growth and development, their child will have a better chance of being successful upon entrance into kindergarten. The BabySteps program includes weekly parent education sessions and bi-monthly home visits.

A curriculum of age-appropriate activities is used to instruct parents and their children. Our work is based on the most recent brain research that shows that an infant or young child’s curiosity and precocious development should be nurtured through reading, talking, singing and other interactive activities. Showing a child love, affection and encouragement are critical to our parents improving their parenting styles – promoting faster growth and development for their children.

Children’s Education

While parents are attending an educational parenting session, their child is participating in interactive literacy-based activities. Each activity typically begins with a book, a song, a piece of art or a dramatic presentation. Learning centers are designed for selective choice by the child or with support from a nurturing instructional adult staff member or volunteer. The creative arts are integrated to bond pre-literacy language and mathematics skills.

We are in need of funds to support:

  • Building home libraries with books, educational toys and art supplies;

  • Establishing computers in the home with software for children and parents that includes training and maintenance;

  • Organizing family excursions to cultural sites in Mississippi including parks, museums, theaters, etc.;

  • Training workshops for parents that provide in depth information on topics related to helping them set achievable goals for themselves and their families;

  • Offering community engagement activities; and

  • Providing professional development for staff and community members.

Program Components

Parent Education

Education Enrichment

Health and Wellness

Community Partnerships


Baby Steps, Inc., c/o CREATE Foundation, P.O. Box 1053, Tupelo, MS 38802
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