Milwaukee project reaches 150-200 children each summer
by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – A four-church collaboration in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is giving 150-200 children an opportunity to learn about the arts and sciences. Tippecanoe, Grace and North Shore Presbyterian Churches have joined with the Hephatha Lutheran Church to sponsor an eight-week “Arts and Science Literacy Camp” specifically for low and middle income families.
Organizers say the program engages a “whole child” model of literacy teaching and learning.
“Arts and Science Literacy Camp primarily serves children in grades one through four,” said the Rev. Karen Hagen, pastor of Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church. “The children are able to build literacy skills by exploring weekly nature themes expressed through an arts integration model of learning.”
Hagen says the camp serves a diverse group of learners including children who are African American, Hispanic and Caucasian and includes students diagnosed with mild autism, cognitive challenges and speech and language disabilities.
“Our focus is to enhance each child’s literacy skills through use of non-fiction reading and encoding in their handmade journals. Teachers offer one-on-one instruction as well as small and large group settings,” said Hagen. “Activities include walking in nature, observing and sketching the world around us, working with community artists, learning from science specialists and hosting mentors from area universities.”
Hagen says the hope is to create a community within a positive learning environment, developing literacy skills while also developing more self-assured children.
“We know that as children become successful in reading and gain confidence in their personhood, they grow up with real hope and skills which move them into healthier lives, away from joblessness and violence,” she said. “We seek insight from the teachers and specialists as well as children and parents to evaluate learning and adjust curriculum.”
Teachers interact with parents each day, giving and receiving feedback on the sessions and the impact on participants. Hagen says the number of children and parents seeking to participate grows each year as campers find and share success and want to return.
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