For the last six years, the community has been reaching out through United Way Poland to children and youth living in poverty. Many of these young people have given up on themselves, abandoning the classroom to spend their days on street corners and in empty parking lots. Joining forces with community partners, United Way Poland is giving at-risk kids the skills and confidence they need to reclaim their futures. Among children and youth in one district, grades have already improved by 16% and attendance has improved by nearly 15%.
These kids want to learn and succeed; they just need the opportunity to shine. Every year, 200 kids aged 7-18 take part in activities ranging from science and language lessons to sports, photography and more. Three day-centers offer a safe place to play, learn and socialize. Over 100 educators specially trained to work with impoverished children and youth are instilling a renewed love of learning in these kids, with excursions to museums, performances in street festivals and a variety of other projects.
United Way Poland is doing more than putting a Band-Aid on the problem; so far, they have provided micro-scholarships to more than 300 children, furnishing them with the school supplies, books, and clothing needed to catch up with their lessons and reintegrate into the school system. More than 98% of students with scholarships in one district have chosen to continue their education at a high school or vocational school.
None of this would be possible without an actively engaged community. That’s why United Way Poland is also committed to expanding awareness through media campaigns and family outreach. As a result, United Way’s mission to put these kids back on the road to success is now joined by government, academia, private companies, schools, parents, media, and more than 30 other NGOs.
As we move forward into 2014, we encourage you to LIVE UNITED. Become a part of lasting solutions in your own community, and join many other people who are passionate about the same issues. You can reach out to your local United Way and learn about opportunities to give, to advocate, and to volunteer. You can also make a difference in a child’s life by taking the pledge to become a volunteer reader, tutor or mentor.