It’s never too early to promote safe, healthy and drug free living for kids. Just ask Ambassador and early childhood specialist Jacynta House, who serves as director of the Beautiful Mindz Preschool in Miami Gardens.
“I think everyone needs prevention education,” said House. “If we educate children when they are young, they will be less likely to do drugs. My goal as an early childhood educator is to give children the best life possible.”
When asked whether she thought that children in preschool are too young to be exposed to drug prevention, Jacynta quickly replied with a definitive “no.”
“They see drug abuse everywhere because our school is in a low income, high crime environment,” said House. “Every morning, I have to clean the playground because there are bags and wrappers everywhere from drug use. I want our children to seek a different, healthier life for themselves.”
Many of the students who attend the preschool have parents who work long hours, some of whom pick up their children as late as 8pm, and many come from insecure home environments. Jacynta dedicates herself to creating a stable and safe learning environment for these young children, ages zero to five, every day.
“We talk to the children about feelings,” said House. “We talk about how sometimes external factors can change a mood and how people act and behave toward you. We want the children to be able to recognize their own moods and others’ and respond to them in healthy ways.”
House believes that children need support, stability, nurturing and the opportunity to grow academically from a very young age to prevent larger problems from starting. By starting young, House is giving her children the opportunity to flourish and resist the temptation of engaging in risky behaviors later on. She talks to her students, many of whom have addiction in their families, about the dangerous consequences associated with drug use and abuse.
“I want my children to choose a better life for themselves,” said Jacynta. I want them to say, ‘Miss House told me about drugs and I’m not going to use them.’”
House introduced students to the Lock Your Meds campaign with a discussion about medication, why people take them and safe practices surrounding their use. She also asked parents to take the Lock Your Meds pledge promising to secure their medication, take regular inventory to ensure nothing is missing and safely dispose of unused or expired medication.
Recruited by Informed Families’ Director of Community Relations, David Williams, Jr., almost eleven years ago, Jacynta has delivered the Informed Families prevention message at each school she’s worked in since that time, the majority of which have been early childhood education centers. However, she does not limit her message delivery to students and parents at her school; when House is out in her community, she speaks to anyone who will listen about the importance of prevention.
“I really enjoy the program and I believe it is geared toward everyone,” said Jacynta. “The materials you send are ready to go; there’s nothing extra Ambassadors need to do. I deliver the message to everyone who walks through our door and I keep materials with me and pass them out in our community.”
Among her favorite campaigns and activities are Family Day, Red Ribbon Week and the Red Ribbon Walk & Wrap, during which House raised money for prevention programs and a science lab at her preschool. During Safe Homes Smart Parties, House reminds parents that they are important role models for their children. Even though their children are little, they see everything.
It is no surprise that many of Jacynta’s former students stay in touch with her and thank her for her dedication to their education and healthy development. Still, not all students end up on the right track. When House runs into a former student who is struggling with drug abuse, she always offers to help find that person recovery or employment.
“When our children are struggling, I say a prayer,” said House, who has five children of her own. “That’s what gets me through.”
Informed Families greatly appreciates the tireless dedication to the children of Miami Gardens exhibited by our outstanding ambassador, Jacynta House. We look forward to continuing to work together to help kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free for many years to come.