Summer equals warm weather, camps and family vacations. For many kids, the break from school may lend itself to fun times, but unfortunately can also create a disconnect from all that they’ve learned during the school year. This “summer slide” means that students are forgetting skills they’ve learned and falling behind in math and reading, especially children from low-income families who have less access to high-quality summer learning experiences. Fortunately, United Ways across the world spent their Day of Action generating support and attention for reading and summer learning.
United Way of Greater Chattanooga hosted a Read-A-Palooza, a carnival of reading fun, at the local mall where families had access to learning checkups for toddlers, free books were handed out, faces were painted, volunteers read to kids, literacy arts & crafts were provided, toddlers were signed up for Imagination Library Books, and literacy software demos were hosted by Hamilton Place Mall with United Way’s own Project Ready for School early childhood education program and with local United Way partners the Public Library, WTCI Public TV, and the City of Chattanooga Dept. for Youth and Family Development. The event had at least 1,500 attendees – 600 or more were children. The reading carnival was followed by a mentor recruitment evening at a Chattanooga Football Club game at Finley Stadium, where United Way continued its search for 400 mentors to help guide more than 385 public school students on a waiting list for a mentor. Approximately 3,000 came to watch the game, and some left that evening as potential mentors.
My United Way Day of Action was filled with books, smiles, giggles and fun. I read and distributed books to preschool kids at a local family resource center. The time spent with the children halted my day, as if for those two hours, nothing else mattered. The Day of Action kept me grounded and focused on what really matters, our community.Tiffany Mousel, Lincoln Electric Systems (LES)
Other United Ways have taken Day of Action as a pivotal day within ongoing, year-round efforts. When 2015 data showed that 84% of students who attended camp iRock had no summer learning loss, United Way of Pickens County knew they had to replicate and expand the camp in 2016 to more students in Easley, South Carolina. This year, they’ve gone from one to three camps at three schools serving 180 students. Volunteers from BB&T Bank and United Way Association of South Carolina spent Day of Action assembling literacy kits that were distributed to parents and students to use at home throughout the summer to reinforce skills learned while at camp.
More than 100 volunteers from nearly 20 different companies volunteered at 13 different sites throughout the Lincoln, Nebraska community, promoting literacy by distributing new, age-appropriate books and reading to children. This summer, 1,105 students are participating in summer programming supported by United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County. Those students will also spend time reading with volunteers throughout the year including Day of Caring in the fall, a winter holiday reading event and in the spring for the annual book drive.
Even on the other side of the world, volunteers in Shanghai are ensuring children have continued education support. Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) partnered with Shanghai Charity Foundation and United Way during the “One Day of Change” program to have 40 employee volunteers read, play literacy games, and distribute boxes of school supplies to two kindergarten classes. The employees also committed to future volunteer activities and donating funds and supplies that will benefit over 700 preschool migrant children in the “Sprout” program.
Although Day of Action occurred on or around June 21, the efforts to stop summer learning loss continue throughout the world, all summer long. Connect with your local United Way to find out how you can support reading programs or mentor a student this summer.
Volunteering for United Way is an excellent way to see my dollars in action. I enjoyed reading to children at today’s Day of Action. It is so exciting to see the joy a short story can bring to a young mind.Connie Peterson, INSPRO Insurance