Posted by on Jun 7, 2013 in Educational Equity, Social Justice |

An Act of Civic Engagement & Documentation for Blog Publication

Civic Action & Reflection

I have learned the most about myself through this partnership work from the kids, their little faces help me realize that at the end of this I have created my own civic identity through my engagement and I am leaving a footprint behind that has made an impact. As I reflect I can see the instances of action that occurred where I feel I was the most impactful. Despite the everyday involvement of helping in homework club, serving the kid’s lunch, or coaching them on the soccer field, I see my actions and involvement in the Multi-cultural night on week 4 as most impactful. I got to intermingle with the kids and their families which created an even deeper bond and shed more light onto what their lives are like at home. The kids were overwhelmingly excited about the few newer books we had brought in for display at the Cultural night, they all wanted a copy and said they don’t have any new books in their library, especially not on the topic of culture. These books were informative picture books with maps, flags, and statistics, each educating on a different culture. My biggest concern academically with the kids at my school is the lack of engagement in reading and culture. The library has cut to shorter hours, is closed in the summer, and drastically limits the number of books kids have access to. There is a 2 hour reading program SUN (Students Uniting Neighborhoods) developed for elementary aged students within attendance who need extra help with their reading over the summer run mostly by volunteers. This allows kids access to books from the school and the local library across the street during the summer when they are usually closed or have reduced hours. Some kids have no way to obtain books in the summer if their parents work all day and the school library is closed. How do I know this you ask? Last week I caught a sweet little 2nd grader stuffing a hardback into his backpack. When I asked him what was up, he replied that he had nothing to read at home because his parents couldn’t buy him books. He also said he was sick of reading the comics and that he is too intellectual for that. He is smart, and also funny, which pains me even more to hear that he is in such desperate need of great reading material when there is so much out there to be read. He needs access to it and the local public educational funding is failing him by not providing him with adequate access to the school library as hours are reduced and budgets are cut. If he can barely get books now, how will he get books during the summer? We made a plan and discussed how he can sign up for the reading program at the school during the summer months. I spoke with his teacher and she said she will make sure to send home a request form in hope of getting a parents signature, I gave her the form that we have copies of in the homework club office.

Within this exchange I realized just how easy it was to get involved and take immediate, tangible action. I made sure the letter was sent home and he was informed of his options, he said he had never heard of it before but there were posters up all over the school. I realized I could be better, more involved and started wondering why it took me my final term of college to get involved, really involved into a partnership program in my community. I will be continuing my involvement over the summer and participating in the Summer SUN reading program that provides books and mentors for elementary readers of all levels in English and Spanish. Below is also a list of other local elementary aged summer reading programs and ways to keep the kids involved in reading throughout the summer!  - local sports advocates – local library programs  (DIG SRP) – PSU interactive classes – PPS programs by teachers (4 week sessions)