Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Giving New Meaning to Summer Break

Photo of author Alexandra Chaikin
By Alexandra Chaikin,
Online Media Project Manager
Summer break is in full swing and many local NeighborWorks organizations  are using the time off from school to get kids involved in their communities. Below are a few of the many great projects going on around the country:

Ava and Maria in the vegetable garden
Youngsters from the Detroit Country Day School Junior Community Service Club are helping Lighthouse of Oakland County by tending a vegetable garden with zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and peppers. The fresh produce supports Lighthouse of Oakland County's emergency food pantry and provides important nourishment to seniors.

A nonprofit called Little Acts of Love (West Lawn, Pa.) paired up with Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Berks (Reading, Pa.) to get Berks County youth to help the elderly by painting, roofing, and doing various other chores to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate.  Ten houses on Second, Front, Pear, and Buttonwood streets were improved by the efforts. This project was featured in the Reading Eagle news.

Virginia and Maryland
Research from Johns Hopkins the shows that two-thirds of the 9th grade academic achievement gap between disadvantaged youngsters and their more advantaged peers can be explained by what happens over the summer months during the elementary school years. To combat this, Arlington-based AHC Inc. is helping more than 120 children combine education and fun over the summer. This year's theme is the Olympic Games. Along with swimming each week, campers participate in a variety of educational activities and field trips to such places as local museums, Imagination Stage, and Upton Hills Water Park.

This summer, Alamo Area Mutual Housing is running a Dr. Seuss-themed reading program at one of its community Learning Centers. The program culminates in an end of summer bash, where kids will be able to celebrate their reading achievement - and the top 4 readers will participate in a field trip to Splashtown waterpark this month. In addition to the reading program, Alamo Area Mutual Housing is offering a 4-H math and science camp, gardening opportunities, and a chance to perform in plays and talent shows.