If you have kids, you know that Summer can be an incredibly difficult time to plan for your kids.. Sure, the stress of school is over for the kids, but the stress for parents is just beginning. Parents have to figure out what to do with their kids now that they will have so much more free time.
Most parents aren't in a position to take off work to tend to their kids needs, and I'm not just talking about their basic needs for food. I mean their needs to entertain themselves. We all remember how boring Summer can be, which means kids getting into trouble with all that free time.
The solutions seem simple. Enroll the kids in a camp or hire a nanny to take the kids on adventures, but while that may be simple, it's just not an option for underprivileged families. There are tons of kids from families who don't have the resources to do that, which is where United way comes in.
Camps can be a great place to send the kids during the Summer while you're away at work, but even for the most wealthy families, that cost can add up. It's not as if leaving your kids at home all day is ideal. They are bound to get themselves into trouble. While some families are lucky enough to have money for activities, or they simply have enough family members to carry the burden (send the kids over to grandmas), those aren't options for many families. While some cities have free rec centers for kids to go to, that isn't the case for many cities and neighborhoods.
This whole phenomenon is known as the Summer Slide, and it also affects kid's learning. Without activities that actively engage the kids' minds, the kids can actually lose momentum on their learning.
The groups of kids most hurt by the Summer slide are kids from underprivileged neighborhoods. By losing momentum on their learning, they will suffer during the school year. As you can imagine, this has a snowball effect throughout the course of their schooling. It's another way that underprivileged kids get left behind. It isn't that they are inherently less intelligent. It is that they are afforded less opportunities.
That's why United Way has created a program to help end the Summer Slide in underprivileged neighborhoods. They have created a six-week program called "Once Upon a Summer" so that kids can continue learning throughout the Summer season. The camp will offer a lot, including classes in music, dance and art, as well as full meals throughout the day. The program also sends kids home with activities and lessons that they can do with their parents.
Sheena Wright, president and CEO of United Way of New York City, had this to say about the radical new program: "Summer learning loss and literacy is an incredibly important issue, and we're thrilled to be able to help students each year through Once Upon A Summer, part of our ReadNYC campaign to promote grade-level reading. Reading at grade-level is one of the largest predictors of high school graduation and the ability of students to reach self-sufficiency as adults, and the summer is a critical time to keep kids engaged with reading material that is culturally relevant and exciting."
This type of community involvement is exactly what we need across the country so that no kid is left behind. United Way believes that by investing in children, we're investing in the future of our country.