Students Rally Rainier Valley Community in not so Typical Summer Program

South Seattle – Urban Impact, a local community-based organization, is in the midst of hosting  the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools at two program sites. The program commenced on June 29th and runs through August 7, 2015. Rainier Avenue Church and Rainier Beach High School (RBHS) sponsor sites will unite by hosting a finale event during the last week of the summer program. Read Lead, a California-based organization, partnered with Urban Impact to establish this as the second CDF Freedom Schools model implemented in the state of Washington. Level I-III scholars, kindergarten through eighth grades, will proudly host a program finale at Rainier Avenue Church on Thursday, August 6th from 3:30 to 5:00pm. The Level IV scholars, or students in ninth and tenth grades, will showcase their summer of learning at the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Center at Rainier Beach High School on Friday, August 7th at 6pm. The finale will celebrate the culmination of the CDF Freedom Schools model, a transformative reading-intensive curriculum for children, referred to as “scholars”, ages 5 through 15 in the Rainier Valley.

“Freedom Schools is bringing an emphasis on education that cultivates each scholar’s unique voice and quite literally allows them to interact with their own history. It also gives schools in Rainier Valley a chance to prove they do have students who matter, who have important things to say and who should have access to a high-quality education, ” said Katelyn Durst, first year Servant Leader Intern at Rainier Beach High School.

Through carefully chosen historical and multi-cultural books, scholars explore and discuss issues like racism, history, segregation, hope, and the power of education. Throughout the Freedom Schools program, scholars connect with “I can make a difference” themes that inspire children to think, to act, and ultimately to build confidence. Each week scholars are given a new lens to look at themselves, where they are seen as the experts. The program will engage in a Day of Social Action on Friday, July 31st, where children will learn about advocacy and using they own voice to make change at the policy level. This will include a high school student-led walk for funding of public transportation to and from Seattle Public Schools and an opportunity to raise awareness of the Freedom Schools education model at Seattle City Hall.

In 1995, CDF built upon the vision and philosophy of Mississippi Freedom Summer Project 1964 and led a rebirth of Freedom Schools through the Children’s Defense Fund Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC). Urban Impact hopes to engage families in the CDF Freedom Schools program and the greater Rainier Valley community to work toward solutions to problems facing this community this summer and beyond.

“The civil rights movement is something that we are still fighting for and education is the avenue that Freedom Schools chose to advance this movement,” said Shelby Jones, first year Servant Leader Intern at Rainier Avenue Church.

Featured photo courtesy of Urban Impact