Project Transformation (PT) builds partnerships between college-age young adults, children, and churches to address the achievement gap for children from low-income communities.
Most kids will experience a “summer slide.” In middle or high income homes, children usually have limitless access to books, educational tools, and interested adults, but that’s not the case for many children from low-income families. Reading proficiency is a key predictor of a child’s future success yet 80 percent of low-income children are behind grade level in reading.
PT provides community-oriented summer day camp programming for 1,100 children and youth at 11 different sites in north Texas. In June, members of our church served with PT at Waples Memorial UMC in Denison, which was serving 127 of these students. For one week, Monday through Thursday, volunteers read with elementary students in three rotations, starting at 10:00am and finishing by 12:00pm. We helped children sound out words, encouraged their efforts, and gave them our undivided attention for 30 minutes.
One of my students, who will be a fifth grader in the fall, looked for me each day and asked the PT interns, “Can I read with her?” One PT volunteer, who is a member of Waples, shared how he has had the opportunity to watch students grow year after year. It’s a powerful and humbling experience to build meaningful relationships with the PT students.
Another one of my students, who will be in fourth grade in the fall, had trouble reading words as simple as “pup” or “cat.” My heart broke wondering how he’s been promoted in school even without a basic skill like reading. He was timid to try to read with me, knowing that he should be able to do more, over-hearing how other children were reading easily with their partners. So we chose simple books and I applauded what he was able to do: “Do you know what you did today? You read FOUR books!”
I am so glad this child has found Project Transformation, to receive support and encouragement he may not have elsewhere.
On Thursday of our PT volunteer week, members of our church also volunteered to host a Family Fun Night, feeding the families of the students served in the program. We were surprised when children passed by chips or cookies to ask for second helpings of fruit. It could be that they don’t often have fresh fruit at their house. We were also able to send extra pizza home with a mother of ten, bringing tears of gratitude to her eyes.
Beloved of God, all of this was possible because of you. Whether or not you made it to Denison to serve face-to-face, you supported this mission with your generous outpouring of gifts and prayers. Thank you for all you do to share the love of God!