It all begins each morning with Harambee ("let's pull together"), a high energy gathering of our Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® scholars. Inspirational songs and enthusiastic chants get everyone moving, motivated, and ready to embrace the day to come.
One of the highlights of Harambee is Read-Aloud, when a special guest comes to read to the 70 scholars who attend the camp each day. Guests have included a bishop, judge, film director, foundation executive, and many others who serve as role models.
One of our Read-Aloud guests was Dr. Robin Robbins, the new Principal of D. H. Stanton Elementary School here in Peoplestown. Here is how she described her experience of Harambee:
Spending time at Harambee made me realize that I am the luckiest principal in Atlanta Public Schools! I was able to see many of my students from D.H Stanton Elementary School engage in a very fun and interactive summer experience through HARAMBEE! I hope to one day learn the many chants, rituals, and norms that I experienced that morning! Such a magical experience for my children!
Harambee is just the beginning of a fun and enriching day where reading is the main event. Ann Fowler, Director of Education Services and leader of the program describes the mission of our camp this way:
One of the goals at Camp Summer Hope, a CDF Freedom Schools® program, is to help readers and non-readers fall in love with books. To help achieve that goal, the Children's Defense Fund has provided us with a rich library of books representing the best work of writers and illustrators in the country. My favorite time of the day is Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) time, when all scholars and adults on site silently read a book of their choice for 15 minutes.
We know that reading at grade level is an important measure of future academic success. However, at D. H. Stanton Elementary School, 31% of students do not meet this important target and even more see the advances they make during the school year erode during the summer months (the "summer slide"). Our goal is to "turn the curve" on this challenge by helping our scholars to improve their reading abilities and to develop a love of reading that can last a lifetime.
One of our primary goals at Emmaus House is to increase educational achievement for children and youth through our summer and year-round programs. Through our participation in the CDF Freedom School's® program, we believe that our children and youth will make huge strides as they work toward academic success.