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July 6, 2015
Diego is 7 and going into the 2nd grade at Linton Elementary. He lives with his mom, aunt, uncle, and cousins. He enjoys going to the pool and riding on a motorcycle with his uncle. His favorite thing about 1st grade was the 100th day of school where they made special projects and had a class party. When Diego grows up, he wants to be a veterinarian.
Diego and his family live in Harmony Village, and he attends Generation Now's Camping UpSTREAM summer program while his aunt watches other kids at the house. Of the sixty kids in the program, 95% qualify for free and reduced lunch for Poudre School District, and 98% are of Hispanic or Latino heritage.
In order to succeed at becoming a veterinarian, Diego has a lot of obstacles to overcome. One of which is graduating from high school. In Larimer County, 20.5% of kids didn't graduate on time in 2014. Whether or not he realizes it, Diego is already taking steps to ensure he is not one of those kids.
Generation Now, one of United Way's Community Impact Partners, is striving to break the cycle of poverty for under-resourced, at-risk youth in our community. “We believe education is the key,” said Suzanne Barslund, Secretary of the Board & Co-Director of Harmony Road Get Ahead Club. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 16% of students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade do not graduate from high school on time. “We founded a rent free, completely volunteer run learning center at Harmony Village to help make a difference for the children in this community. We are beginning our 6th summer program and we just completed our third year of our afterschool program.”
They launched their Swimming UpSTREAM to Get Ahead Clubs last fall. In August 2014, they made the decision to revamp both their after-school Get Ahead Club and their summer reading and math Get Ahead Club to incorporate the STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, art, and music) curriculum. “We don't think we would have completely revised our program to focus on the STREAM curriculum without input from the other nonprofit partners in our United Way collaborative group,” said Barslund. “Research shows that participation and learning engagement increases when students, especially at-risk students, are given choices in what they would like to learn. While science, technology, engineering, and math are important areas for our students, we also feel it is extremely important to continue to focus on reading and art activities. After incorporating the STREAM concept, our attendance and contact hours showed an increase of 869 hours when compared to the previous year.”
Diego has been a part of the after-school and summer Get Ahead Clubs since he was 4. His favorite part about the program is reading, art, and playing games. Since joining the club, Diego has improved in things like reading, math and art, all of which will build his confidence and keep him on the right track to graduate.
“The training that United Way and our collaborative partners have provided has been invaluable,” said Barslund. “Participation in the collective approach to community change has helped us get to know all sorts of wonderful passionate people who want to see the community change for the better for our kids and youth.”
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County