Op-Ed

Find summer opportunities to keep kids learning

As the academic year winds down, we look ahead to summer when children and youth pour into day camps for weeks of fun activities, field trips, and learning. This is when youngsters can explore new opportunities they may not have time for while juggling classes, homework, and testing. But it’s also a time when national research indicates the student achievement gap widens between affluent and low income students.

This is why The Children’s Trust works hard to level the playing field and shrink those summer achievement gaps by funding high quality, evidenced-based summer camps that are just as educational as they are entertaining. In fact, The Children’s Trust is the largest funder of summer, after-school, and youth enrichment programs in Miami-Dade County at hundreds of sites each year.

Now is when parents need to do their homework to select the best summer experience that provides academic supports in addition to sports, dance, music, technology, science, and a wide variety of other selections. To help parents make that choice, we have an app for that!

The Trust’s free mobile app, available for download on any smart phone in English, Spanish, and Creole, lists hundreds of programs for children and youth ages 6-18. Upgrades to the app have fine-tuned geographic search capabilities, making it even easier for parents to pinpoint exactly what they’re looking for, be it a camp within walking distance of work or home or one with a focus on sports, STEM, or the arts.

This app is a go-to resource for busy Miami-Dade County families searching for safe, affordable, and engaging programs that support continued academic development so that fewer children in our community suffer from the summer slide. The comprehensive directory includes detailed program descriptions, dates and hours of operation, eligibility requirements, fees, and contact information. Every program serving children with disabilities is clearly marked; all Trust-funded providers are inclusive.

Most important, listings include not only Trust-funded camps and programs, but those supported by other funders and private organizations, as well, to provide the broadest array of options possible to our community.

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For teenagers more in need of a work experience than a camp, the paid summer youth internship program is available for 1,400 lucky students as a result of a landmark partnership between Miami-Dade County, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, The Foundation for New Education Initiatives, Career Source South Florida, and The Children’s Trust. Businesses that want to host an intern or students interested in interviewing for a position can visit miamigetmyinterns.org to get connected.

These opportunities go a long way toward providing youth with real-world experiences that help build their résumé as well as their work ethic.

The Children’s Trust is proud to offer a wide variety of possibilities to children and youth this summer. We urge parents to take advantage of them.

James R. Haj is president & CEO of The Children’s Trust.

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