Community

Resource Fair Offers Kids a Head Start on Summer

By Thomas K. Pendergast

Parents planning summer activities got an opportunity to directly connect with more than 20 organizations at the Richmond Recreation Center last month thanks to a new program organized by the City’s Department of Children, Youth and Their Families (DCYF).  

Jennifer La (left to right), Emily Davis and Ydalia Morales Miller at a pop-up fair for kids at the Richmond Recreation Center on Saturday, Feb. 16.

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Jennifer La (left to right), Emily Davis and Ydalia Morales Miller at a pop-up fair for kids at the Richmond Recreation Center on Saturday, Feb. 16. Photos by Tyrone Bartoli.

On Feb. 16, the DCYF hosted one of 13 resource fairs being held around San Francisco in an effort to make parents aware of all of the different agencies that offer summer camp activities.

“There is a lot of research conducted about summer learning loss and it shows that children and youth who are not engaged in summer programming when school is not in session tend to fall behind their peers in math and literacy,” said Emily Davis, a DCYF public information officer. “So a big point of that is just to make sure that that doesn’t occur, and that working families have a safe and fun group of activities for their children to do during the months that school is out.” 

Davis explained that this is a “pilot program” managed by DCYF, although they are partnered with the SF Recreation and Park department for this project. 

Previously they managed an annual citywide resource fair at the County Fair building in Golden Gate Park for more than a decade.

RRFair2_March2019“This (pilot program) is more along the lines of taking it to where people are at, into the neighborhoods. That’s why we’re having them at the rec. centers. They are pretty well located within each of the districts in San Francisco, so we’ll have at least one in every district,” Davis said.

A study provided by Afterschool Alliance, an organization that promotes summer school programs, concluded that children attending summer programs showed higher emotional and social skills than their peers who did not attend. 

When programs focused on math or language arts, students with 25 hours of math instruction or 34 hours in language arts instruction held during the summer outperformed students who did not receive the same level of instruction in the relevant subject in fall assessments. 

“We were really excited when DCYF decided to pull together all of these various programs and resources to help enrich programming for children in the summer,” said Angelina Yu, a legislative aide for SF Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer. “We hope that this is the beginning of really creating a space where families feel like they’re comfortable moving across the different offerings in the neighborhood.” 

“Street soccer” is an after-school program that coach Moustapha Bangoura, who is from the African country of Guinea, and coach Justine Grimmond will be offering every Saturday at Argonne Elementary School from March 9 to May 11, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., with first through fourth grade students.

RRFair4_March2019“I think one of the most important things is that we are non-profit, which means all of our programs are free, so we give more opportunity to more people to join the program than other programs,” Bangoura said. “I think that’s a big opportunity for Bay Area youth.”

Tree Frog Treks is an outdoor program emphasizing nature and science, with locations in five city parks: Golden Gate, Precita, McLaren, Holly and Glen Canyon. Their summer program runs from June 5 to Aug. 16; full day (grades 1-5) runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while half day (preschool and kindergarten) runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with early and extended care available until 5:30 p.m. 

Tree Frog Treks are a reptile rescue organization, so they bring animals to the camp and teach the kids how to handle them. They go on nature hikes and teach about native species. 

“With the technology and digital era, we’re trying to get kids to have less screen time and more green time, get out in nature,” said Shay Usiak, the program’s director at McLaren Park.

RRFair5_March2019“It’s definitely better for kids to be able to go and build forts and get in mud with bare feet on the ground,” said Hannah Anderson, the program’s director at Precita Park. “That’s definitely what we’re pushing for is kids to get out in nature and get dirty.”

Rebecca Gonzales of the San Francisco Public Library’s Richmond Branch said they have a special STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) focus for a lot of their summer programs. 

“They can find things like how to make Alka-Seltzer rockets, how to make slime, using things like Ozobots, learning about circuitry,” Gonzales said. “We’d like to think of the libraries as a neighborhood hub and work with other organizations to share information. We have an open house event coming up on March 9, so we’ve invited other community groups to come in.”

Not every program was for young children, however, like that offered by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), which has a study abroad program for high school students called Global Navigator. 

“Our mission is all about making study abroad accessible to all students across the socio-economic spectrum, and the idea is that they bring that experience back into their own communities to pay it forward,” said Kelly Britt, an international studies advisor with CIEE.

For the summer programs students are able to choose between language and culture immersion, service learning and leadership or global career exploration focusing on business, science or the arts.

RRFair6_March2019The full price to participate ranges from between $4,400 to $6,900, but it does offer scholarships. Britt said for the merit scholarship, students must submit their transcripts, however, they don’t have a cut-off standard; instead they give more weight to the response of students to three essay questions.  

“We want to see they’re speaking from the heart about why this experience is important to them. So, of course, we do like to see students that are in good academic standing,” she said. “They also need one teacher recommendation, but really we want to see what their goals are for this kind of experience.”

The other kind of scholarship is need based, so if the students apply for both then potentially they could participate for free should they qualify. 

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