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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Mariah Sharpe is Colorado River Indian Tribes’ 2018 Champion for Young Children


Mariah Sharpe has been selected as the 2018 Colorado River Indian Tribes’ First Things First Champion for Young Children.

The award is given to local champions who actively volunteer their time to raise public awareness of the importance of early childhood development and health. Champions spend a significant amount of time volunteering with FTF and building public awareness about the importance of early childhood issues.

Sharpe engaged in awareness-raising efforts such as:

  • hosting a social event at the community center for elders and youth to mingle.
  • volunteering with the CRIT library’s early literacy program to encourage reading with young children. She is a frequent guest reader at story times where she engages with the young children to get them more involved in the books. When she read “My Many Colored Days” as part of a celebration of Dr. Seuss, Sharpe gave each child had a colored scarf for each to raise up when their color was read aloud.

We recently caught up with Sharpe, who is the 2018-2019 Miss Indian Arizona. Her platform includes connecting young children with tribal elders to preserve cultural heritage. She is a student at Paradise Valley Community College, pursuing a degree in health and wellness. Her plans are to continue her education at Paradise Valley Community College and then transfer to the University of Hawaii to complete her bachelor’s degree.

Question: Why do you feel early childhood development and health is so important?

Answer: I feel that early childhood development and health are so important because it establishes a strong foundation for children to succeed. Early development in a young child has a direct impact on who they grow up to be as an adult. That’s why we must invest in the young children, bringing them up in positive learning environments and helping the young children to maximize their potential by giving them a strong start.

Question: How do you suggest other people in your community get involved?
Answer: Becoming involved in early childhood development and health is as easy as picking up a book and reading to your child, niece, nephew, sibling or grandchild. I firmly believe that if my mother had not read to me as a young child that I would not be passionate about volunteering with programs that emphasize early childhood development and health.

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