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  • Lucia Zegarra

Lunch and Learn 2018 and Expansion

Lunch and Learn youth summer camp was founded in 2013 by Jacquette Frazier to address the need for summer engagement and learning retention for elementary school youth in her rental community.

The goal of the program is to promote learning through academic focus on skills appropriate reading and math, and to provide a safe, educational, nurturing, and physically and academically stimulating summer environment for children of limited means in Takoma Park, and surrounding areas.

The camp includes a STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) program, sports and athletic activities, multi-generational cultural education activates, and provides leadership and community service instruction to middle school and high school youth with training and opportunities to earn SSL hours.

Many families of limited means are food insecure, and this program ensures that participating youth have regular nutritious and filling meals for most of summer break. Daily review and preview of age and skills appropriate math and reading helps to ensure that youth retain knowledge from the previous school year, while preparing for a higher level of instruction the following school year. Participants take a pre, and post assessment test to determine appropriate skill level placement, and their progress is monitored.

The participants are visited weekly by local guest speakers who share their knowledge and expertise about issues such as voting, healthy eating, safety, etc. Youth participate in daily physical activity through walking and playing, arts and crafts activities, multicultural dance lessons, and 3 weekly trips to the local swimming pool.

This program is provided to FARMS (free and reduced meals) eligible youth ages 6 – 13 in greater Takoma Park, MD, and the Long Branch community, and middle school and high school aged youth who learn leadership skills and earn SSL hours by assisting with the program. The program’s participants are minority youth living in apartment communities in Wards 4, 5, and 6 of Takoma Park, MD.

In the summer of 2017, the camp had 181 participants. Of the 117 youth grades 1 – 6 who took pre and post tests in math and reading, 97% maintained or improved their math scores from the beginning to the end of the program, and 93% maintained or improved their reading scores from the beginning to the end of the program.

This year the curriculum for elementary school students includes social and emotional learning activities that will help children to develop emotional and interpersonal skills that will benefit their whole lives. For middle and high school youth the junior leadership program is partnering with So What Else, which teaches youth service learning and other leadership skills.

Working with the community to ensure the well-being of our youth, and to decrease the “summer slide” in youth of limited means is integral to CHEER’s mission of helping to create healthy thriving communities in Takoma Park and Long Branch. The program has enjoyed broad support from the City, County, and the community in past years, and is the most successful camp of its kind in Takoma Park. Demand for this camp far exceeds the number of students that can be served. We want to expand this program to all the youth in Takoma Park and Long Branch who can benefit from it.

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