A Summer of Fun

This summer, the Northwest Ohio Family Resource Center and Raise the Bar worked together to fight the “summer slide,” the long summer gap where young students lose focus, get distracted, and typically are taken away from a structured educational system.  The Summer of Fun program provided a place for Findlay children in the grades K-5 to meet for five hours five days a week throughout June, July, and August to participate in various educational games, learn more about the community around them, and have the chance to make friendships.  This program opened the eyes of these students to a world of opportunity and showed them a variety careers that they could be a part of one day.   

This program was free to participate in and provided free transportation, free lunches through Glenwood Middle School, and free packed lunches for field trip days through City Mission.  City Mission is a homeless shelter for men, women, and families.  They also provide free food for those in the community that need it.  Joy Barger, the Executive Director at City Mission, said that since they were unable to participate in activities with the children, she was “glad to help the kids this way.”  Joy finds value in knowing that this program helps “bring the community together to help kids become a priority.”  She knows that some of these children would normally go hungry, and this program helps feed the children.  Joy hopes that the kids left this program knowing that “people care about them in the community,” and that “there are adults to trust and talk to as advocates.” 

To expose the students to a variety of careers that could take on in the community as they got older, they took field trips to numerous job sites.   These job sites included Dietsch Brothers, City Apparel, Rowmark, and AJ’s Heavenly Pizza.  The kids even got to participate in making their own pizza at AJ’s Heavenly Pizza and decorating hats at City Apparel.  The students also visited the University of Findlay to learn about broadcasting, both for television and the radio.  Along with current partnerships, they hope to form more partnerships for next summer.

AJ du Fresne had the opportunity to work with the children when they visited the University of Findlay.  AJ works with UFTV (University of Findlay Television).  AJ recalled borrowing puppets from the College of Education, so the children would have the chance to use puppets to interview each other.  Using puppets, the children asked each other questions such as, “What did you do over summer vacation?” While two kids sat and asked questions, other kids learned how to operate the camera and film them.  He took them around the studio and showed them how to operate different parts of the studio.  AJ recalled that everyone was laughing and said, “It’s always exciting to see students engaged in what we are doing.”  AJ also saw Doug Jenkins showing them how the radio works.  He let the students go live on the radio and ask questions about the behind-the-scenes work.  Learning how to operate a camera and speak for the television or radio is an opportunity that these children may not have had without this program.  He said the children were “well-behaved” and “entertaining.”  AJ hopes to be able to help with the program again next year.

Cara Treece, an instructor for Summer of Fun, was very pleased with how the program turned out.  The instructors hope that it becomes a regular summer event as the program helped with “opening their eyes more in the community.”  Cara said that even though it would be believable to think that a kid would not want to participate in a summer program, the kids were enthusiastic to come back every day and formed new friendships.  Everyone was excited about how the program turned out- the instructors, the parents, and most importantly, the students.  The Summer of Fun program allowed young children to spend their summer forming new friendships and having fun learning more about the community without losing the structure of school.

For more information on how you can get involved with Raise the Bar, the Family Resource Center, or City Mission, please visit their websites.