Erica Walker, MA, LSW: Program Manager
I hope you are enjoying summertime in Chicago; in my opinion, it’s when our city is at its best. There’s no shortage of interesting things to do and places to go! Summer program is currently underway, and as always, we strive to give our kids a variety of opportunities to make it fun and memorable.
We have ten active programs at seven sites around the city, with six K-5 programs and four middle school/teen programs. Our program for summer is utilizing components of Collaborative Classroom’s Caring School Community curriculum, with positive results so far. Kids are engaging in group circles at the start of every program day, discussing questions to learn more about one another, share their thoughts and opinions, and listen respectfully to others’ input. Also, students are engaging in group activities designed to promote relationship-building skills and successful collaboration with others. With more flexible program structure for summer, Site Coordinators have more freedom to select and design activities for students and respond to their requests and needs, programmatically. Students have responded positively to the diverse slate of read-aloud books touching on themes of social-emotional learning, and have participated in enrichment activities involving simple chemistry, food experiences, sculpture, geometry and more. We are also making a concerted effort to gather more information about how much time our students are reading, and visually documenting program where possible.
Our enrichment partnerships this summer are diverse, exciting and engaging as well. We have brought on a new enrichment partner: Everybody Dance Now, a national school-based dance program will be making visits to our program site at SRHAC. Harmony, Hope and Healing has been visiting Primo shelter sites, and also came to our Site Coordinator meeting to teach volunteers and staff some useful strategies for including more music and rhythm in program. Code Play Learn came to our West Loop office to teach volunteers how to implement some new engineering projects. The Simple Good is bringing an art medium to program that’s relatively new for HOPES: photography! And one of our newest partners, Juicebox, has already received rave reviews from students at Cornerstone with innovative activities that combine music, writing and performance. Summer program flies by so quickly, but as you can see, we are making it count!
I encourage you to do the same this summer. Get outside, take in some fresh air, splash, play… or just soak it all in. See you in the next newsletter!