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Teaching our children.

Four years ago, Elias and Gaynell Hendricks couldn't find a suitable day care center for their 10-month old twins. So, they did what most parents only dream of doing--they started their own.

"We were looking for a nourishing, cultural environment for Elias Ill and Shia," recalls Gaynell, a former management trainee for Metropolitan Insurance Co. in Birmingham, Ala. "But we couldn't find anything we were satisfied with."

That didn't stop the Hendricks, however. Instead of placing their kids in just any center, they used $15,000 in personal savings to start Wee Care Academy. The Hendricks' children are now among the 257 kids enrolled at the center. The couple is proud to boast that Wee Care, which has a staff of 26 and looks after kids aged three weeks to six years, is not just your ordinary day care center. The Birmingham-based facility is a place where children can learn about African culture.

For instance, Jacob Lawrence prints adorn the walls. Watercolor oil paintings and works from local artists depict African themes. Field trips to see African Art collections are frequent rituals.

Says Gaynell, Wee Care's 40-year-old president and executive director: "I think it's extremely important that our children know about their history so they can feel good about themselves."

Adds the 45-year-old Elias, a former Bell South Services Corp. marketing manager who is now Wee Care's vice president: "We want to spark self-curiosity and black pride."

Gaynell says the average cost to look after a child is $60 a week. (The number of weeks each kid stays in the center varies, however.) Last July, the Hendricks inked a three-year contract to operate eight day care centers formerly run by the Birmingham Housing Authority, The couple projects the deal may boost revenues to $1.5 million, from $500,000 in 1991.
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Title Annotation:Wee Care Academy child care center
Author:Wynn, Roxanne
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:301
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