In a modest medical office three stories above South Phoenix, Dr. Duane Wooten sits behind a large desk scattered with paperwork. He has run a successful pediatric medical practice in Phoenix for 31 years. “I’ve helped a lot of people – nearly 35,000 children,” he explains.
A native to Phoenix, Duane’s roots in the community go deep, “I was born and raised in Phoenix. I grew up at the Matthew Henson Housing Projects down the street – not many people that do what I do can say that. But I can, because A New Leaf’s Phoenix Day program is part of my roots.”
Things were not easy when Duane was young. “My father worked three jobs, and my mother, Georgia, took care of six kids.” Duane’s parents were determined to make sure their children would not struggle as they had. “My mother desperately wanted to get us ready for school, but there were limited resources in South Phoenix. Luckily my mother heard about Phoenix Day, even then a staple of the neighborhood – accessible and exceptional.”
Duane was accepted into Phoenix Day, attending from three to four years-old. Duane says the comprehensive programming was pivotal in his development. “Phoenix Day has programs covering fine motor development, cognitive development, social development, everything!”
For Duane, Phoenix Day set him up for success. “Because of Phoenix Day, I attended public school in South Phoenix and did very well – that’s not common. I might not be where I am without it. These programs make all the difference.”
Since graduating from Phoenix Day 40 years ago, Duane has made a conscious effort to give back, serving on Phoenix Day’s Board of Directors. “I needed to give opportunities to other people needing help. Phoenix Day has operated for over 100 years; it wouldn’t still be here if Phoenix didn’t need it.”
For Duane, providing education early in a child’s life changes everything. He feels lucky to have gotten the education at Phoenix Day he needed to become a doctor and give back. “Your roots are where it starts. Your roots make you who you are, and Phoenix Day will always be part of my roots.”
A New Leaf knows that when a community invests in children through programs like Phoenix Day, it develops leaders and thinkers, people like Dr. Wooten. That is why we will continue to give kids a clear path to a brighter future.
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