Experts agree that children who read during summer gain skills, while those who do not often slideback. Students from low-income families experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of more than two months. These kids suffer greater "Summer Slide," and the cumulative effect of that learning loss increases each summer.
Thanks to our generous volunteers and community partners, this summer more than 75 youth benefited from the structured learning environment at UCM's two community centers. They enjoyed special educational field trips and other enrichment activities that kept their young minds active.
"Our educational programs are a safe haven for children of working parents who may not otherwise have access to affordable care for their kids," says Deborah Finley, Supervisor at UCM's Creekside Community Center, where children ages five to thirteen can participate. Children in our community center summer programs receive a healthy lunch, in partnership with Fairfax County's Free Summer Lunch Program.
Youth at the UCM Creekside Village Community Center made dream boards to set goals for the upcoming school year; enjoyed meeting and working with UCM's new program team members including Amariss, Chris, and Mehret; and reading books from the Center's Little Free Library.
Youth at the Sacramento Neighborhood Center had a special treat when U.S. Representative Don Beyer stopped by one recent afternoon for a tour and to meet them, including answers their questions such as “What is your favorite part about being a Congressman?” (Answer: helping people) and “What is your favorite sport?” (Answer: hiking).
A total of 55 participants from the UCM Sacramento and Creekside Community Centers spent a hot summer's day to experience the the FLY Dance Company: Music from the Heart show at the Wolf Trap Children's Theater in the Woods. "The performers wowed the students with their amazing dance skills and expertly choreographed performances," says Daniel Gulino, UCM Manager of Children, Youth, and Families. "One of our students was even invited on stage to perform for everyone! The FLY Dance Company found ways to make classical music exciting for our youth. The backflips, breakdancing, and funny antics of the dancers had all of us amazed and full of laughter." After the show, the performers took the time to sign autographs and pose for photos with our youth, which made them feel extra special.
Other trips were a visit to George Washington's Gristmill, area water parks, and a day at the American Museum of Natural History for hands-on learning experiences plus the National Parks Adventure IMAX movie and a picnic on the National Mall.
The parents of our youth are grateful for the support this summer. "The educational fun activities at the center help my family and my neighbors to raise healthy and smart kids," one mother tells us.
We invite you to be part of the success of our children and youth. We have many opportunities to tutor or mentor youth after school, for example. To learn how you can volunteer or help, visit our Volunteer Opportunities page. Together, we stabilize, empower, and engage kids and families to inspire their success!
(UCM E-news, August 2017)