Summer Camp

Summer is Coming

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By, Carson Bolding

Temperatures are rising into the triple digits. Days are getting longer. And students are holding their breath as the last minutes of the school year tick away. This can only mean one thing: summer is almost here.

As students walk out of their classrooms for summer break, it’s important that learning doesn’t stop. How students spend these summer months has a large impact on their health, safety, and academic performance. The inequity of opportunity during the summer can widen the achievement gap for low-income students, as they often face academic setbacks and a lack of access to healthy foods (Wallace Foundation).

However, high-quality summer learning programs can push these students ahead. Research from the National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment shows that “three to four consecutive summers of high-quality learning beginning in pre-kindergarten can get kids reading on grade level by third grade, making them four times more likely to graduate from high school” (Summer Learning). By keeping kids learning throughout the summer, we can ensure that they’re classroom-ready when they return to school in the fall.

 summer learning programs positively contribute to academic performance

While summer learning programs positively contribute to academic performance, they also provide an opportunity for students to dive into subjects that spark their interest. Engaging them in new and innovative ways, these programs meet kids where they’re at, allowing them to explore their interests hands-on. Summer camps and community events go beyond “drill-and-kill” instruction, so that the educational “experiences of summer… feel different for students” (Wallace Foundation). These programs do more than just prepare students for the next school year. They engage them in the lifelong process of learning.

DallasCityofLearning.org is a comprehensive online directory of affordable and no-cost summer programs to help children and youth explore their interests during out-of-school time. Create a free account and start exploring all of the fun and educational summer activities the city has to offer, including Coding, Robotics, Sports, Performing and Visual Arts, Science, and more.

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Things to Do with Your Kids During the Summer

Summer is an exciting time filled with fun and exploration! It can also be a time for children to learn a new skill, improve their reading ability or explore the arts. At the Dallas ISD and Dallas City of Learning “Discover Summer” Resource Fair last Saturday, families from all across Dallas discovered hundreds of free and fun summer activities in the city for children of all ages. We asked parents and caregivers to share their advice about things to do with kids during the summer to keep them engaged, learning, and having fun! Here are more than 100 of the tips we collected:

1. Give each child one on one time Go to the park, bowling, watch movies, play sports
2. Make kids busy in learning new things
3. Darles ánimo para fuerce a explorar en algo campamento que nos ofrece el estado de Dallas y asistir
4. En las vacaciones de verano repasamos las tareas de las escuelas y después de completar vamos al parque
5. Take kids to summer camp and have children read books over the break
6. Tomar tiempo para hablar con ellos siempre que podemos
7. Read all the time. Turn off TV and the internet
8. Deporte, ciencia, lectura
9. No cable. Go to the library every Sunday to read!
10. Keep them busy in different activities
11. Lectura, baile
12. Jugar con ellos sentarse en la mesa a comer, platicar de nuestros metas
13. Keep them entertain all summer
14. Mantener mucha disciplina en hacer que aprenden los niños
15. Ejercicio
16. For dance and some music .Listen to your kids
17. Be a good example! Read everyday
18. Keep them and listen
19. Go out and keep them active Read more, more fun activities
20. STEM program
21. Reading. Spending time together. Have fun
22. Trabajos manuales. Leer libros
23. Que apoyan a sus hijos con la lectura es muy importante.
24. Exercise. Stay cool.
25. Buscar actividades de calidad No estar en la casa viendo TV o en el teléfono celular
26. Spend time talking with your child Understand their needs and wants
27. Let kids be kids
28. Each child is an individual and should be treated and respected as such
29. Read and Play “every day for 30 minutes”
30. Pasar tiempo con ellos para jugar, leer, pasar caminar en el parque and hacer trabajos en casa
31. Make learning FUN.
32. Que practiquen más deportes y coman saludables
33. Compartir tiempo de calidad
34. Ensenar a cultivar plantas
35. No dejar que los niños se queden todo el día viendo tele. Busquen actividades para enriquecer sus habilidades.
36. Teach them to have the correct attitude towards learning, teachers and school
37. Parents spend time with kids – water park, zoo, science fair
38. Ayudaremos a nuestros hijos a permanecer en el estudio, enfocarse en cosas positivas, estar activos en deportes. Ya que los mantiene enfocados para no tener tiempo en cosas negativas. Dios los bendiga
39. Motivar a nuestros hijos
40. Read
41. Have fun. Read a lot.
42. They should be responsible, cleaning, learning to cook, learning to draw, reading, writing, play different games, Julie
43. La comunicación es muy importante entre padres y hijos
44. Cuidarlos, quererlos, enjoy every momento with them during the summer
45. Read, Relax. Premade meals and snacks Rhoades Elementary
46. Keep child engaged in activities academic and extracurricular
47. Lo más importante es que ellos tengan actividades con otros niños, actividades variedad que no estén encerrados.
48. Dedicar tiempo a los hijos. Jugar con ellos y escucharles – muy importante
49. Visit public libraries where they offer fun free activities by Gabriela
50. Podrían poner clases para ensenar a nadar a los niños
51. Soy abuela y les quiero decir que cuiden de sus hijos e hijas. Son tesoros especial, ámalos Monica
52. Compartir más tiempo con ellos y hacer actividades juntos
53. Have fun, stay active
54. Hay unas escuelas que tienen parques para los niño y no estén encerrados en sus casa
55. Picnics swimming camping walking the dog in the morning
56. Darles el tiempo para jugar y ayudarles en sus tareas
57. Que participan más los papas con los hijos. Que sigan apoyarlos. Ángela
58. Continúa con lo que han aprendido durante el año. Drill with your babies every day for at least 20 minutes William and Alicia
59. Reading, Outside play
60. Advice Play with your kids outside
61. Pasar tiempo en actividades al aire libre sin tanta tecnología y jugar como lo haría en sus niñez
62. Pasar tiempo de calidad con nosotros Hijos son los más importante para nosotros
63. Darles un buen ejemplo Somos un espejo
64. Interact, communicate, stay active
65. Mantenerse activos y menos televisión
66. Visit the library Perot Museum Local camps waterparks or splash pools
67. Keep them active play outside and do homework
68. Take kids to library
69. Animarlos a seguir estudiando durante el verano y buscar campamentos para ellos. Leer.
70. Feed them healthy meals
71. Enjoy the time with your children. Make memories
72. Keep active and involved Also reading continuously
73. Read! Read! Read!
74. Hacer actividades al aire libre
75. Take your kids to campinvention
76. To be healthy. Be creative
77. Actividades físicas Actividades académicas Visita la biblioteca
78. Go on vacation
79. Read
80. Keep them active and safe, have fun, cherish moments that we share
81. Leer , jugar, ir al parque
82. Keep them active
83. Entretenerse sanamente y con vivir con los hijos
84. What we need to with children during the summer is keep them active, motivated and strengthening in every area
85. Find a great camp, use Khan academy, go camping
86. Con vivir con la familia y hijos
87. Enjoy every time with your kids. Have fun.
88. Keep them active and motivated at all times (Smiling Face)
89. Enroll into summer camps reading programs be active in everything they do.
90. Listen to your kids
91. Make children responsible for their actions
92. The advice I give is spend lots of quality time and love them and of course read to them Edith Lopez
93. Listen to you children Keep them active
94. Educate them teach them about caring sharing, bullying Have lots of fun Angela
95. Read every night to and with your child
96. Keep the kids busy
97. Listen to you kids
98. Work life balance Kid development society contribution
99. De dejar de practicar la lectura durante el verano
100. Help your child to read more books and more books
101. Keep them reading EVERDAY!
102. Get your children out of the house and moving
103. Play outside
104. Que se mantengan ocupados en una actividad o deporte
105. Que los niños lean todos los días aunque estén en vacaciones
106. Ensenarlos a respectar a todos los niños
107. Mi mejor consejo es estar al lado de nuestros hijos y brindar el apoyo que necesitan
108. Ensenarle y que no pierden lo que aprendan
109. Biblioteca, leer juntos para ayudar en el aprendizaje
110. Always make time for the kids
111. Be productive and persistent
112. Working on drawing skills
113. Tiempo de calidad con los hijos, escucharlos
114. La televisión no protege y no educa
115. Disfrutar can los hijos cada día.

To discover more fun and free or low-cost summer activities in your neighborhood, visit DallasCityofLearning.org and start exploring!

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The Art of Teaching: Meet Donna Carey

Home Base: Dallas

Big Thought History: Carey has been a Big Thought teaching artist since 2010 with the Thriving Minds After School and Summer Camp programs. She’s taught culinary arts, life skills, poetry, visual arts, food photography, performance art and more. Carey coached two America Scores Poetry Slam winning poets during 2014 and 2015, both students from Anson Jones Elementary. The students were awarded a trip to New York to present their poems at a fundraising benefit for America Scores. She also coordinated spring community service projects for America Scores from 2013-2015 benefitting SPCA, American Red Cross with military care packages, and North Texas Food Bank.

Education: Associate in Arts in Culinary Arts from Remington College in Garland.

Teaching Philosophy: “I want to stimulate students’ imaginations and creativity,” Carey says. “If you are strong in imagination and creativity, you are strong in thought, which builds thinking and decision making skills.”

Why Is Big Thought Important? “Big Thought pairs artists with students so that artists can share their knowledge with students that need it. Students can then open up and express themselves. But Big Thought also helps the artists. It helped me. I knew I was a teacher, but Big Thought really helped me become a better teacher. It’s so important to make sure the artists and the students are together because art and creativity are not in schools like they used to be, and kids really need that form of expression.”

Rewards of Teaching Big Thought Students: “Watching the progress of the students, how they build their confidence, express their feelings and opinions, and develop their stage presence,” she says. “You see how they really want to write with enthusiasm and interest they have never had before. The end reward is watching a child get up onstage in front of a group and sharing a piece of themselves that they never thought they could share. They walk on that stage like they own it.”

– Mario Tarradell

Photo: Donna Carey works with a student at Anson Jones Elementary. Photo by Jose Sosa/Big Thought. 

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Rachel Dupard Found Her Voice With TBAAL, Big Thought

By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager

From adversity to triumph: Rachel Dupard is living proof. The 21-year-old native of Duncanville now calls Santa Fe home. She’s a first semester senior at Santa Fe University of Art and Design as a Contemporary Music major. Dupard is a singer whose inner voice broke through a childhood hearing dysfunction.

Her formative years in North Texas were impactful and revelatory, with more than a fair share of struggles, for the young lady born with fluid in her inner ear that complicated her hearing. Before she was in kindergarten, Dupard had already endured several surgeries and began three years of comprehensive speech therapy.

But Dupard remembers the support of loving parents and the joy of singing. She remembers the heavenly noise of singing with her church and elementary school choirs. She remembers the impact Big Thought partner The Black Academy of Arts and Letters made in her journey via five years of rigorous summer programs and three years of master classes.

“The performances during the summer programs at TBAAL gave her the confidence to be onstage and not be intimated, almost like she was on Broadway,” says LaChanda Dupard, Rachel’s mother. “That led to her audition to get into Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and then college auditions. She walked into those auditions with a confidence level built by those years at TBAAL.”

Dupard looks back on her 21 years philosophically: “My life has been aligned like dominoes,” she says by phone from Santa Fe. “I am excited about what is next in my life.”

TBAAL helped reinforce the foundation for Dupard’s singing dreams. She was in that potentially awkward teenage cusp during her first summer performance camp at TBAAL, a longtime Big Thought partner. It was 2008, and little did Dupard know how invaluable that experience would be. In fact, three years later Dupard was honored with TBAAL’s Curtis King Performing Arts Award.

“I had the best time,” she says. “They taught me how to tap into emotions, how to tell a story, your story. That is essential to being an artist. It really helped change me and helped me be the artist that I am today. “

Dupard has studied classical through childhood private voice lessons, as well as gospel, R&B, and now jazz. She’s keenly aware of her talents, while at the same time accepting of the fact that her hearing history forces her to work harder to keep pace with classmates.

“I still have to focus a little bit more,” she says. “I still have to realize that I don’t learn as fast as my other colleagues.”

But the passion burns, and Dupard has no regrets. She’s exactly where she needs to be thanks to parents, mentors and instructors that encouraged her to reach deep inside and nurture her gift. Adversity led to triumph.

“My whole life has been an adventure so far and I’m so excited about it,” she says. “It’s been a lot of trials but at the same time it’s been enjoyable. College is setting me up perfectly for the real world of music. It has helped me deal with different people. I grew up in a very loving environment with my mom and dad. They taught me how to love people. I can’t wait to see how life turns out for me.”

 

 

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National Summer Learning Day is Every Day at Big Thought

By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager

National Summer Learning Day comes but once a year. It’s July 14, to be exact. That’s the advocacy day designated by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) to “highlight the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer,” according to the NSLA website.

But at Big Thought we celebrate Summer Learning Day throughout the entire season, not to mention the whole year, as we close the opportunity gap by providing children with fantastic, imagination-expanding chances to reach their full potential.

“We believe that learning should never stop,” says Kristina Dove, Big Thought’s Program Manager, Partner Relations. “All kids should have the opportunity to enrich their minds and become excited about learning.”

Summer is ripe for that kind of nurturing motivation. We have Dallas City of Learning, a true public-private citywide commitment convened by both the City of Dallas and Dallas ISD, managed by Big Thought, and supported by a network of more than 200 community partners and organizations such as museums, libraries, parks, rec centers and neighborhood centers.

Dallas City of Learning is up and running for a third year, so we are busy providing Turn Up! and Pop Up! events frequently tied to existing summer camps. Which brings us to the State Fair Experience Camp, which began July 12 and concludes July 14 – right on National Summer Learning Day.

The camp, held at Fair Park’s Creative Arts Building, serves students from South Dallas that attend the various camps taking place in that area. Expected attendance for the three days is 150.

Day one of the State Fair Experience Camp included Chef Cassondra and the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute cooking Strawberry Smash Muffins and Chicken and Guacamole Tostadas using the State Fair Competition Kitchen.

Day two of the State Fair Experience Camp featured master gardener Jerry Robinson having students visit the Big Tex Urban Garden so they can learn about farming. He even had them plant their own seeds and take home the planters.

The final day of the State Fair Experience Camp is all about creating arts and crafts. Yes, it’s the arty day. But it’s also the Dallas City of Learning Pop Up day. Big Thought ambassadors will be on hand with plenty of laptops to register students for DCoL, provide them with digital credentials for their hard work completing the State Fair Camp. We will have fun swag for the kiddos and lots of incentives to keep learning long after summer.

“By providing kids with fun, hands-on and explorative experiences they may not otherwise have, we ensure they avoid the summer slide that could leave them lost at the beginning of the new school year,” says Dove.

Big Thought has more coming, too. DCoL’s second Turn Up! event happens July 23 at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas Love Field. The third and final Turn Up! event for 2016 is Aug. 4, a DCoL Tech Day at Billy Earl Dade Middle School in Dallas.

“We want kids to stay active, to earn digital badges in a variety of subjects they choose, which helps them chart a path toward a career,” says Dove. “This is how Big Thought helps close the educational opportunity gap for our own kids right here in Dallas.”

Big Thought thanks its Dallas City of Learning donors for their incredibly generous support. For a full list of donors, please visit the Dallas City of Learning page.

 

 

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Creative Solutions Lights the Way Back for 12,000 Students

By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager

The day is unapologetically sunny, a gorgeous early summer vibrancy tamed by the canopy of trees lining Southern Methodist University’s Bishop Boulevard. There is brightness here; a glowing hue that charts a path like a lighthouse illuminates the way back for a wayward ship.

Alonzo C., an 18-year-old student of Big Thought’s Creative Solutions program, sits on a couch lining the Owen Arts Center’s second floor. Below him are the Bob Hope and Margo Jones Theatres. This is Alonzo’s fourth year in the Creative Solutions summer program at SMU’s Algur H. Meadows School of the Arts, a seven-week, arts-driven series of sessions that ends in a culminating performance July 28 and 29.

Like most of the 12,000 students embraced by Creative Solutions since the program’s inception in 1994, Alonzo found his way back after being convicted of a crime and experiencing probation.

“When I first started it was 2013, I used to be quiet and shy,” says Alonzo. “Each year helped me become more and more talkative. It made me feel like people actually do care for you. They want to help you overcome what you are going through, and they never judged me.”

Alonzo found his muse for singing, dancing and performing arts through Creative Solutions. He found his confidence. He found his empowerment. Alonzo now has a job, he stays out of trouble, and he can see a future.

“I learned that anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” he says. “Creative Solutions helped me to not go back. I’m not a bad kid, but I know that without this I would probably go back. But I am serious now.”

Creative Solutions has come a long way in its 22-year existence. Back when Big Thought’s Lisa Schmidt founded the program, working closely with probation officers and the Dallas County Juvenile Department, it was all very “intuitive,” she says. “We felt it would work. We did not know the science behind it. Now with all this data, we are able to use it to redesign our programs to make them more effective and more scientifically based. They are now data driven.”

The Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) analysis of the past two Creative Solutions summers revealed that 41 percent of youth increased their social skills by more than 5 percent, which is considered statistically significant. Also, 40 percent of youth decreased their problem behaviors score by more than 5 percent, also statistically significant.

At the heart of that social-emotional learning is Big Thought’s Program Specialist Allison Caldwell, who in 2011 became Projects Director with Creative Solutions. Caldwell, who works day in and day out with the CS students, feels deep-rooted, emotional compassion for these kids whose lives have been anything but idyllic. These are kids stuck in a potentially widening opportunity gap.

Caldwell counts on the character-building work of Creative Solutions teaching artists Alejandro Perez, Jr. and Menkiti Rice, both instrumentally involved in the CS summer program at SMU, to take these kids through a psychologically fortifying two months.

“Everybody starts in a different place and leaves in a different place,” says Caldwell. “Some kids come in more wounded than others and have more work to do. They all leave taller, more confident at connecting with others because they can’t make it through the program without improving.”

Making it through, using that beacon to find your way to a safer, more fulfilled place, remains the goal. “For many kids this may be the first thing in their lives they actually finish,” says Caldwell. “That public embrace at the end is new for them. To be seen, heard, validated and not shamed is very empowering.”

How do those seven weeks go by? With singing, dancing, playing drums on water jugs and Home Depot buckets, writing poetry, doing calisthenics, chanting motivating mantras, making mosaic art pieces, sitting at the pottery wheel, working on your eye contact and posture, learning to shake hands with adults and mentors, finding the right words to express yourself, taking the time to solve conflict, being open-minded, seeing conflicts from other perspectives. It’s all about self-exploration, connecting with others through empathy, communication and collaboration, and self-regulation.

“Don’t just do something, stand there,” says Caldwell. “We teach them to take a pause before they react. If you have been through trauma it is harder to control your emotions. That’s because they are inherent survival instincts.”

Surviving morphs into prospering and the evolution begins. Sixteen-year-old David O. is back for a second year of Creative Solutions at SMU. His specialty is acting and creative writing, so that culminating performance at the end of July is paramount. He’s grown confident with singing and creative writing. He also has a summer job now that nourishes him with healthy responsibilities.

“I like this,” says David about Creative Solutions. “I wanted to see how it would be the second year; see if it was the same. I want to be part of that performance again. It’s important that I be there. If I’m not there I’m not doing my part and everybody else suffers. If I’m there I help out and we make the play a whole lot better.”

That’s the spirit of the Creative Solutions family. These kids start as strangers verbally opposed to each other and end as friends united by the will to bond. “It really becomes this tight knit group of support,” says Caldwell. “Kids you never thought would work together are in a room working toward a common goal. There is always intolerance at the beginning and then it turns into acceptance.”

Alonzo is living proof. The loner walked in never expecting to connect, only to walk out with a new set of friends. “They opened up to me so I opened up to them,” he says. “They changed my plans.”

“We have seven weeks to trust each other like a family,” says Alonzo. “You feel pride and accomplishment about that performance. They make it easy for us to do that performance because they make the environment safe.”

And the lighthouse illuminates another path.

Big Thought’s Creative Solutions thanks the Dallas County Juvenile Department, Dallas County Juror’s Fund, Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts, Anonymous, ExxonMobil, Mr. and Mrs. David Chortek, Ms. Serena Simmons Connelly, Mr. Tom Connelly, Elizabeth Toon Charities, Hillcrest Foundation, The M.R. & Evelyn Hudson Foundation, Mr. Jay Judas, Texas Bar Foundation, The Junior League of Dallas, Katherine C. Carmody Charitable Trust, Ms. Eliza Solender, TurningPoint Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Ellen Wood Fund for their generous support.

 

 

 

 

 

Big ThoughtCreative Solutions Lights the Way Back for 12,000 Students
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