By Joseph Salas
It’s called learning loss. According to Harris Cooper, a Duke University Psychology Professor, children learn at the same pace during the school year. It’s unequal access to quality after-school and summer programming that causes children to fall behind. Children who do not participate in structured activities that expose them to new challenges and experiences over the summer, for example, lose an average of two months’ worth of reading and math skills.
In summer camps and after-school programs, children learn to work together, make choices, take responsibility, develop creative skills, build independence and self-reliance, and gain confidence. Most importantly, though, routine exposure to new concepts, people and perspective keeps the young mind in shape, so when school starts they are ready to hit the ground running, losing little time as they readjust.
Combating learning loss is an ongoing challenge. Significant barriers exist for many families to enroll their children in quality extracurricular programs including availability, transportation and cost.
Greenwich House, however, has announced a new campaign to overcome these barriers. The Fund for Fun is a two-month initiative to raise $10,000 for scholarships to its After-School and Summer Arts Camp programs. In each program children work on collaborative and individual projects in disciplines such as architecture, painting and drawing, cartoon art, ceramics, printmaking, and animation and learn to feel comfortable expressing themselves artistically.
“We found the biggest barrier to our programs was cost,” said After-School Director Omar Amores. “We try to make the program as affordable as possible but families are struggling financially and wages are stagnant,” he continued.
Amores noted that one in four students in the programs relies on financial aid, but the need is greater than the aid available. Each year families are forced to make tough decisions, with many withdrawing because there just aren’t enough funds available.
“Every child deserves the opportunity to go to camp, not only for the fun and games but for the personal growth and development. With our scholarship fund, we hope every child will have that opportunity,” said Amores.
The Fund for Fun kicked off on June 17 and runs through August 12, when Greenwich House has a special fest planned to celebrate reaching the goal.
Asked what will happen on August 12 if the goal isn’t reached Amores quipped, “We’re hoping everyone will do their part…we need everyone to do their part.”
To make a contribution to the Fund for Fun or for more information, visit greenwichhouse.org/fundforfun.