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This Summer's Lesson: Learning Is Fun

Freedom Schools LA Times

From the L.A. Times:

It is a hot, energy-sapping morning on a quiet residential street, but inside the Lynwood United Methodist Church, summer school students are raising the roof with inspirational chants, boogie-down dances and affirmations of friendship.

There is a good-morning greeting, shouted by the teachers: “Freedom School, how you feelin’?”

“Fantastic, terrific, great all day long!” the group of about 35 children bellows in response.

It is part of a start-of-day ritual of song, dance, meditation and sharing of experiences called harambee, a Swahili word meaning “let’s pull together.”

And for the Lynwood students, the joy of learning inspired by the morning’s pulse of energy does indeed last all day long.

The children are among 200 Los Angeles students getting an intensive lesson in reading and loving books during a six- week summer literacy program rooted in the civil rights movement.

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VIDEO: Supervisor Ridley-Thomas Visits A Children's Defense Fund Freedom School

Yesterday Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas participated in the Harambee — read aloud and responded to questions from the children attending Freedom School, one of three Freedom School programs currently operating in California. During the morning Harambee, a 30-minute activity to celebrate and affirm the value of each participant and prepare for the work and learning ahead, the Supervisor read about Ella Baker, an historic figure who was a freedom fighter and history-maker. He also responded to questions such as, “What does a Supervisor do?” A former teacher, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas engaged the students, mostly elementary and middle school-aged, in a lively and informative interaction.

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) operates Freedom Schools throughout the country. There are plans to establish several programs within the 2nd Supervisorial District next summer. The CDF Freedom Schools program provides summer and after-school enrichment through a model curriculum that supports children and families around five essential components:

1) High quality academic enrichment
2) Parent and family involvement
3) Social action and civic engagement
4) Intergenerational servant leadership development
5) Nutrition, health, and mental health