Mariah Sharpe was recently recognized as the 2018 First Things First Colorado River Indian Tribes 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 is the 2017-2018 Miss Indian Arizona. Her platform includes connecting young children with tribal elders to preserve culture heritage.
“I feel that early childhood development and health are so important because it establishes a strong foundation for children to succeed,” Sharpe said. “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.”
In addition to hosting a social event at the community center for elders and youth to mingle, she has volunteered with the CRIT Library’s early literacy program to encourage reading with young children. She is a frequent guest reader at storytimes 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 Dr. Seuss celebration, Sharpe gave each child had a colored scarf for each to raise up when their color was read aloud.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Sharpe is a student at Paradise Valley Community College, pursuing a degree in health and wellness. She plans to continue her education at Paradise Valley Community College and then transfer to the University of Hawaii to complete her bachelor’s degree.