For the fifth summer in a row, the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools, an exciting six-week summer literacy and enrichment program for children ages 5 to 18-years-old, has come to the Second District. Since June 16, six different sites have rolled out the popular educational program.
In addition, five county probation camps are also taking part in the innovative program, which has had national success in improving participants’ self-confidence, instilling a love of learning and bolstering reading comprehension. Now in its second year, the Freedom School probation camp program is part of a broader effort to enhance the educational approach in youth camps so they more focused on providing a positive learning experience to wards.
Established in 1992 by Children’s Defense Fund founder and children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman, Freedom Schools provide rigorous, quality summer and after school instruction to children in urban environments. The programming, which is both challenging and entertaining, is based on the belief that all children are capable of learning and achieving high standards.
Low-income children are particularly vulnerable to the “summer learning gap”— when many children fall behind in reading and math during the nearly three long months of summer vacation.
Students begin the morning with Harambee, a time of informal sharing based on the Kenyan tradition of community, in which students read aloud, sing, cheer and chant motivational songs, announcements and recognitions, closing with a moment of silence. The children then go on to read and make their stories come to life by painting and drawing them. They dance and sing and go on field trips, play sports and make time for community service.
“The Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools ensure that children, regardless of race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status or gender have a healthy and fun place to learn over the summer,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who initiated the partnership with CDF in the Second District. “I’ve seen the excitement, the enthusiasm and the results over the years – that’s why this has been an annual event in the Second District. This program plants the seeds for a positive future for our children, giving them what I hope will be a life-long love of reading.”
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