Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?" On January 19th, 50 Kid Power students and 150 volunteers rose to this challenge by committing their time and energy to the service of others for MLK Day of Service, a national day of giving back to your community. To kick off this day of service, Kid Power students decorated paper lunch bags and filled them with friendly notes of encouragement. Then students and volunteers filled the bags with homemade sandwiches and healthy snacks to be distributed to community members currently experiencing homelessness. Next, students and volunteers took to the streets to distribute the lunches to those in need.
As the day drew to a close, the students participated in a reflection activity. After watching a video clip of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream Speech”, students wrote on their “hands” how helping others made them feel and what else they can do to give back to their community. Students talked among themselves and came up with some inspirational ways to be of service to others: helping at a shelter, working with the elderly, and just making people happy, to name a few! After all the hands were filled, the students placed them on a tree, which symbolized working together to grow and help the world we live in.
We could not be more proud of Kid Power students or more grateful to the many volunteers who chose to honor Dr. King and his dream by making the holiday “a day on, not a day off,” reflecting the true spirit of MLK Day. We believe that understanding the value and importance of community service and civic engagement is crucial for youth as they grow into adulthood. Kid Power students’ passion, energy, and kindness to others on this day truly embodied what MLK Day is all about!
Thank you again to our volunteers from Miami University, Censeo Consulting, Georgetown Day School, Dickinson Wright, and generous community members for your time and support! It would not have been possible without you!
My name is Rachel and I am currently a college intern at Kid Power. In high school I volunteered with Kid Power through the mentoring/tutoring program that pairs Kid Power students with students from local private schools (I went to Sidwell Friends). Along with Sidwell Friends, Kid Power has spearheaded Public-Private School Network with Georgetown Day School and Edmund Burke. By partnering underserved youth in DC with students from local private schools, Kid Power seeks to bridge the socioeconomic gap in DC. In doing so, many students from the aforementioned private schools, who might not have been aware of the educational and socioeconomic inequalities that persist in DC, are made aware of the issue. Through this experience with Kid Power, some of these students have gone on to pursue careers focused on addressing such inequalities. This experience in high school sparked my interest in the non-profit sector and the relationships I formed with mentees made a lasting impression on me and helped me to feel stronger ties to my own DC community.
When I first started working at Watkins Camp this summer, I thought Maria (pictured left) looked remarkably familiar. After we talked a bit, I learned that Maria was actually a Kid Power alumna and had come to Sidwell as a Kid Power student! One of Kid Power’s biggest accomplishments – and I think one of its coolest aspects as an organization – is maintaining student involvement after they graduate from Kid Power’s after-school and summer programs. Maria started attending Kid Power’s programs when she went to Tubman Elementary School. Now Maria, about to enter high school, works with Kid Power through the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and uses her past experiences with the program to help her work more effectively with the current students and form a mentor/mentee relationship with them.
Reuniting with Maria this summer truly made my Kid Power experience come full circle. Both Maria and I were able to use our past experience with Kid Power to provide current Kid Power students with more insightful mentor relationships and better understanding of their needs and interests. I believe it is these lasting interpersonal connections are what make the Kid Power experience so unique!
What is a citizen? What makes a good citizen? And, how can we become more engaged citizens? These are just a few of the questions discussed this week at Kid Power’s Summer Leadership Academy at Watkins Elementary School. Believing that we all have the power to be the agents of change in our lives, Kid Power’s Citizenship Curriculum is focused on providing students with helpful information on their rights and responsibilities as citizens, as well familiarizing students with the vocabulary that often accompanies discussions about citizenship and democracy. When asked “What makes a responsible citizen?” students came up with thoughtful answers such as, “caring about each other”, “not littering”, and “not committing crimes”.
After solidifying how a good citizen acted, we moved on to the concept of advocacy, discussing what being an advocate meant and entailed. Students were then asked to come up with issues in their neighborhoods they wished to advocate for. By asking students to think critically about their own neighborhoods, Kid Power helps to empower students to stand up against issues that affect them. Some insightful issues discussed included: having more recycling cans in their neighborhoods; improving neighborhood relations with the police; and helping to eliminate homelessness in the District.
This summer, each class will choose one topic they can advocate for. For example, students in the Art Club chose to focus their advocacy project on raising awareness about childhood cancer. Students will then learn about their chosen cause and plan a service-learning project based on the advocacy methods they’ve learned at the Summer Leadership Academy (e.g. letter writing to government officials, PSAs, protests, boycotts). By providing information on advocacy methods, we hope that students will leave with a better understanding of how to affect change in the world!
This articles is written by Lauren Zapko and Clara Huang, two Kid Power Summer Interns
This week, we visited the both the Elementary and Middle Summer Leadership Academy camps. We had the opportunity to speak with some of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) staff members. However, we soon realized that they are more than just summer counselors for Kid Power – they were actually enrolled in the Kid Power programs when they were in elementary and middle school.
SYEP is a “locally funded initiative sponsored by the Department of Employment Services that provides District youth ages 14-21 with enriching and constructive summer work experiences." Kid Power is lucky enough to serve as a host employer to these wonderful summer counselors who are familiar with Kid Power’s programs and the impact the programs have on the community.
We interviewed five alumni of Kid Power who are currently SYEP staff. They all talked about how much fun they had as Kid Power students when they were younger – so much so that they wanted to give back to other kids to ensure that current children were able to have the same wonderful experiences.
One SYEP counselor, Amira, was enrolled in Kid Power from 3rd-5th grade at Miner Elementary School (pictured left). She came back as a 9th grader to where at all began at Kid Power's 2013 Summer Leadership Academy at Miner Elementary School. She told us she wanted to get younger kids "excited about our program activities." She added: "I would do anything for Kid Power because they helped me when I was a kid. I want to tell all the kids in the area that Kid Power makes learning fun."
Throughout our interview, Amira continued to mention that what she learned from Kid Power programs helped her tremendously in school. Math was difficult for her in the classroom but when she started participating in Kid Power’s after-school program, the enrichment activities she completed made math easier and clearer. Eventually, Amira, along with her grade in math class, showed great improvement. Check out Amira on the right as a high school counselor.
SYEP Counselors also spoke to us about how Kid Power helped them learn to become role models and take more responsibility for their actions. One stated, “When I was a kid in Kid Power, I didn’t really have a good attitude or good behavior at school, but when I went to the program at Kid Power, I wanted to change.”
Community service was also a big topic among KP alumni. Because Kid Power focuses on civic engagement and citizenship, SYEP counselors are always interested in giving back to their communities. Iyoha, who works at Middle School Summer Leadership Academy started Kid Power in the 3rd grade and not only graduate high school, but is attending college this month! He stated that, “Helping other people has always been important in my family, but Kid Power gave me a place to do it and people to help.”
After several days at camp, we were perhaps most impressed by the extensive support network that Kid Power is able to create with the young people that it serves. Of course, we have learned that Kid Power has specific academic and social goals for young people to achieve annually each year, but what was strikingly apparent was how dedicated Kid Power is to helping each student transition to a healthy adulthood. What we heard over and over again was how grateful these high school students are having the support of Kid Power no matter what. Several SYEP workers let us know that Kid Power is "our second family."
After getting to know these SYEP counselors, we were inspired by their passion and dedication to Kid Power. We hope they will be back for years to come and continue to support our programs – thank you SYEP staff and Kid Power alumni!
Below, Maleyka is pictured as a 3rd grade Kid Power participant winning an award for "outstanding citizenship" and as an 8th grade role model leading a Farmer's Market VeggieTime Sale with Kid Power's Program Director (Grant Elliott) and Executive Director (Andria Hollis)! Kid Power as a second family... we certainly couldn't agree more!
As part of Kid Power's Citizenship Project program, which is a multifaceted approach to civics education, Kid Power students from the Latin American Bilingual Montessori Public Charter School (LAMB) hosted international volunteers from World Learning’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program. The international college students and LAMB elementary students participated in cultural exploration activities during two after-school sessions in March and April. The university students hailed from different countries in Southeast Asia, Central America and South America. The rare exchange was a truly wonderful experience for all participants.
In the CookieTime program, students learn food preparation skills from professional bakers at CakeLove, develop and market an original line of cookies, and use the proceeds to fund service-learning projects. Last week, Kid Power youth from Jefferson Middle School and Tubman Elementary School came together to host a youth-led CookieTime bake sale. The students in this group carefully thought about where they wanted cookie proceeds to go, and students discussed different groups that could benefit. Students took a vote and ultimately decided to donate proceeds to "Toys for Tots."
An important part of Kid Power’s Veggie Time program is to teach youth how to prepare healthy snacks and meals not only for themselves, but also for their families. One of the ways this is done is through hosting Parent Nights. During this Parent Night at Tubman Elementary School, students decided to make smoothies and complete a craft project with their families.
I showed up as the students at Tubman were preparing strawberry and blueberry smoothies. They looked delicious. Students used ingredients that were high in vitamins and nutrients. Ingredients included orange juice (high in Vitamin C), strawberries ( high in Vitamin C), blueberries (good source of Vitamins C and E) and a special secret ingredient, spinach. Adding spinach to the smoothies boosted the Vitamin A content by 377%! When Tubman students first made smoothies earlier this year, some were hesitant about adding spinach to the smoothie, but other students reassured them that spinach is good for you and you can't even taste it in the smoothies.
On the weekend of March 16th and 17th, Kid Power participated in the NBC 4 Health and Fitness Expo, an event focused on promoting active and healthy lifestyles in the DC community. There were many stations, ranging from Zumba classes, an obstacle course, and a chef who provided cooking pointers.
At the Kid Power station, staff, parents, volunteers, and youth spoke about the organization's mission to foster and promote healthy communities. The event provided a fantastic opportunity to network with individuals and organizations that share the same vision.
At 6 AM on Friday March 8th, five Kid Power students and two Kid Power chaperones loaded into a van and drove down to Atlanta, Georgia for the first “International Young Environmentalists Summit,” hosted by Greening Forward. Not only was this summit exciting in its own right, but it was also the first time any of these students traveled outside the DC Metro area.
After an 11-hour drive, the students walked into the summit, and got right to work. They watched the documentary, “Bag It,” which taught them new ways to reduce their own waste and inspire their peers to do the same. On Saturday, students attended “break out” sessions, where they participated in a variety of activities, including: dancing with Captain Planet, using social media to promote environmental stewardship, and learning conflict resolution strategies. Students also explored advanced environmental concepts, including: sustainable agriculture, stream ecology and water conservation, and environmental justice.