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.
In Kid Power's VeggieTime program, students connect academic lessons on environmental science, food and nutrition, and sustainable agriculture to hands-on gardening and cooking classes.
Last week, I had the pleasure of watching students from Tubman Elementary School and Barnard Elementary School engage in friendly competition as they
as they learned to make guacamole. In just one hour, I witnessed how smart and talented Kid Power students truly are as they read a lesson about the nutrients in guacamole and then prepared their own.
The two schools split into teams and competed in making guacamole with their high school mentors at Sidwell Friends School. They were given a variety of ingredients and had to try to create their own recipe.
Kid Power encourages students to live healthy lifestyles. Our VeggieTime program provides youth with good eating habits and promotes nutritional learning through gardening and cooking lessons. But that isn't the only way to stay healthy. Kid Power students stay fit by being active!
This past week, I visited a few schools and got to witness them in action playing basketball and soccer. Jefferson Middle School students had the courts all to themselves since the school’s team was away preparing for a tournament. The students shared the few balls they had and managed to get in some great shots.
Kid Power’s winter began in December when students prepared their school gardens for the upcoming low temperatures by winterizing each garden bed. They finished whatever ripe vegetables were left by munching on carrots and string beans straight out of the garden. They also tested each bed for overall soil health -- pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium levels -- while learning about why each of these elements is important to plant growth. Finally, they covered the beds with leaves to protect them until the spring.