Sum­mer Suc­cess camps in Swift Cur­rent help to im­prove stu­dent lit­er­acy

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - NEWS - By Matthew Lieben­berg mlieben­[email protected]­

A new United Way pro­gram in Swift Cur­rent helped young learn­ers to main­tain and im­prove their lit­er­acy skills dur­ing the sum­mer va­ca­tion.

The Sum­mer Suc­cess lit­er­acy camps for 30 stu­dents from All Saints Catholic and École Cen­ten­nial schools took place from July 22 to Aug. 2.

The camps con­cluded with a grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony and pizza lunch for campers and their fam­i­lies, Aug. 2.

United Way Regina’s lit­er­acy pro­gram part­nered with the Holy Trin­ity Catholic School Di­vi­sion and the Chi­nook School Di­vi­sion to bring the pro­gram to Swift Cur­rent. Fi­nan­cial sup­port for the lit­er­acy camps were pro­vided by the Knight Au­to­mo­tive Group and an anony­mous donor.

Ac­cord­ing to Stacey Schwartz, United Way Regina’s lit­er­acy co­or­di­na­tor in the Swift Cur­rent area, the in­au­gu­ral camps were a huge suc­cess.

“For our first two camps that we ever pi­loted here in the com­mu­nity to have the en­gage­ment that we had from the busi­nesses as well as the fi­nan­cial sup­port and vol­un­teer en­gage­ment as well as the stu­dents and par­ents and their com­mit­ment,” she said. “Our at­ten­dance through­out the 10 days was pretty much 100 per cent. Ev­ery­body was very com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that the kids were get­ting as much out of the pro­gram as they could. I think that alone, the fact that they were show­ing up ev­ery day, be­ing en­gaged was a huge suc­cess.”

The ben­e­fits of on­go­ing read­ing ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing the sum­mer were ev­i­dent from as­sess­ments of stu­dents at the camps.

“We’ve al­ready done some as­sess­ments, and the kids are ei­ther at par, where they haven’t de­creased, or a lot of them have jumped two, three lev­els al­ready in their lit­er­acy,” she said.

The “sum­mer slide” can oc­cur dur­ing the school break, when stu­dents can ex­pe­ri­ence a loss of read­ing progress due to a lack of struc­tured lit­er­acy ac­tiv­i­ties.

Both camps were full, each ac­com­mo­dat­ing a max­i­mum of 15 stu­dents from kinder­garten to Grade 3 from the two par­tic­i­pat­ing schools.

“The teach­ers in the spring ac­tu­ally hand-se­lect the kids from the schools that will most ben­e­fit from this pro­gram and in the most need of it,” she said. “Through­out the weeks we did break­fast to­gether and then they would go to their sep­a­rate camps with their teach­ers. We have a 5:1 ra­tio. An­other part of the pro­gram that’s qual­ity is they’re get­ting that one-on-one smaller group in­ter­ac­tion with the teacher. So they can re­ally have the teach­ers give them that qual­ity of teach­ing spe­cific to their needs.”

There were ex­cur­sions dur­ing the camps that also in­cor­po­rated lit­er­acy ac­tiv­i­ties. They toured the lo­cal mu­seum and vis­ited The Mead­ows long-term care fa­cil­ity to read one-on-one with some of the res­i­dents.

The Sum­mer Suc­cess lit­er­acy camps have achieved pos­i­tive re­sults in Regina dur­ing the past four years. Schwartz al­ready be­came aware of the suc­cess of th­ese camps in Regina when she was still the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the for­mer Swift Cur­rent United Way. She was there­fore ea­ger to see the ex­pan­sion of this lit­er­acy ini­tia­tive to Swift Cur­rent.

“It’s meet­ing a need that has been iden­ti­fied as a gap,” she said. “It’s en­gag­ing the ex­perts, the teach­ers, in our com­mu­nity to be the ones that ac­tu­ally de­liver that qual­ity lean­ing to the kids, and also the op­por­tu­nity to en­gage the com­mu­nity as a whole to get in­volved and be a part of those kids’ ex­pe­ri­ence and their learn­ing. Over­all, I see a lot of value when I see pro­grams that are cred­i­ble and mea­sur­able, and Sum­mer Suc­cess had all of those com­po­nents as well as qual­ity.”

The United Way of­fice in Swift Cur­rent closed in De­cem­ber 2018 and United Way Regina be­came re­spon­si­ble for con­tin­u­ing ini­tia­tives in south­west Saskatchew­an.

The ex­pan­sion of the Sum­mer Suc­cess lit­er­acy camps to Swift Cur­rent is the first vis­i­ble out­come of that de­ci­sion to fol­low a more cen­tral­ized ap­proach to the pro­vi­sion of United Way pro­grams in the area.

“It was a hard de­ci­sion at the time to close our lo­cal of­fice and align and cen­tral­ize with United Way Regina,” she said. “At the time the de­ci­sions were made strictly based on look­ing at how can we in fu­ture make strate­gic de­ci­sions that are ul­ti­mately go­ing to im­pact the com­mu­nity.”

It there­fore made sense to ex­pand a pro­gram to Swift Cur­rent that has al­ready been a proven suc­cess in other cen­tres.

“Ul­ti­mately that’s what cen­tral­iz­ing and part­ner­ing with United Way Regina has al­lowed,” she said. “For ex­ist­ing pro­grams to be able to come into our com­mu­nity as well as broaden our con­nec­tions within the south­west area and have a lot of the sup­ports and re­sources that just as a small of­fice here phys­i­cally wasn’t fea­si­ble and it wasn’t sus­tain­able to main­tain.”

Schwartz ex­pected a sim­i­lar ap­proach might be fol­lowed in the fu­ture to bring pro­grams to the Swift Cur­rent area.

“I think the hope is that it will be more of this style of com­mu­nity im­pact and in­vest­ment that you’ll see,” she said. “United Way com­ing in and help­ing iden­tify other gaps or ar­eas and then look­ing at part­ner­ing with other ex­perts in those fields to cre­ate pro­grams that will help fill in those ar­eas.”

Photo by Matthew Lieben­berg

Sum­mer Suc­cess lit­er­acy camp par­tic­i­pants from All Saints Catholic School per­form the al­pha­bet song dur­ing the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony, Aug. 2.

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