Federal Grant Helps Homeless Children and Lower Income Families Afford Summer Camp

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Homeless children and lower income families will be able to enjoy a summer full of fun thanks to federal funding.

Wichita's public schools are working with the Parks and Recreation department to make it happen.

The funding is helping three camps at Evergreen, Woodward and Colvin Elementary Schools. The programs are popular and, because of federal grants, they're also affordable. All of them are full. Evergreen even has a wait list of nearly 100 children.

During the summer, there's something fun going on in just about every room at the Evergreen Recreation Center.

"When I came to pick them up she said, 'Can I stay longer?' and I said, 'Well it's time to go.' They want to stay longer, that's how much they like it,” Evergreen parent Sonia Reyes said.

This summer, 200 children are able to join other kids at camp either at Evergreen, Woodward or Colvin. All of them are homeless children who attend Wichita public schools.

"Last year I saw that we had so many homeless children that had no where to go during the day. You'd see them in the street or they'd come into my office and they'd be sweating,” USD 259 Homeless Education Liaison Cynthia Martinez said.

Cynthia Martinez applied for and received a federal grant that not only allows those homeless children to attend summer camps, it allows the camps to lower their prices for everyone else. Evergreen for example costs $27 a week per child.

"If we didn't have the grant I'm pretty sure the fee would probably be in the range of $90, $95 a week. There's a lot of families here that wouldn't be able to afford some of the prices that some other agencies are offering for their camps,” Evergreen Recreation Center Director Larry Dennis said.

Sonia Reyes says her kids are more than ready for another summer at Evergreen and because of the federal grant, she's able to send them.

"I could not afford that if I didn't qualify for that,” Reyes said.

The summer camps are just a part of that federal grant. It's main purpose is to fund after school programs for homeless children and other students that need help at 10 Wichita schools for the next four years. It will also continue to send homeless children to camp for the next four summers too.

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