Best Starts for Kids Expanded Learning grantees provided incredible summer learning opportunities to youth across King County through a variety of engaging programs and activities. Highlights from this summer included field trips across the region, celebrations of food and culture, exploring health and well-being, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) activities, academic supports, and so much more.
Youth especially loved heading outside to explore and enjoy the local nature that the Northwest has to offer. For example, Living Well Kent’s summer program went on a field trip to the Soos Botanical Garden. The youth enjoyed the diverse, beautiful plants present throughout the garden and worked together to identify flowers and trees. Meanwhile, Chinese Information and Service Center took a field trip to Seahurst Beach, where young people got to see and touch various sea creatures in their natural habitat while learning about marine animals, their ecosystems, and the importance of preserving our marine environment Washington West African Center took many field trips to local natural hotspots, including the Pacific Science Center, Farrel-McWhirter Park, Beadow Dale Beach, Mukilteo Beach, Whidbey Island, and more!
Food and culture
Farms served as a popular destination for field trips. Horn of Africa Services had a great time visiting the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, while the Yesler Youth Tutoring Program had weekly field trips to Yes Farms. Field trips to farms were often connected to more broad topics of food. For example, Communities of Rooted Brilliance visited Nurturing Roots Farm as a part of their Edible Science week. Science, art, and vocabulary learning were integral to activities where youth created menus, food collages, homemade lemonade, and edible toy cars. Filipino Community of Seattle combined food and culture during their summer program’s Food Week, which included learning about and making Filipino desserts, much to the youth and their families’ delight.
Other cultural celebrations included creating a documentary film about diversity and culture at Yesler Terrace by youth in Multimedia Resources and Training Institute’s summer program. And, young people at Para Los Niños learned about South America’s history through traditional arts and crafts. Youth in Chinese Information and Services Center’s summer program went on a field trip to the Chinatown-International District. They visited the Wing Luke Museum to learn about Bruce Lee and how racism impacted his life. Then, they checked out a local martial arts studio.
Health and well-being
Young people at First Five Years & Beyond engaged in a weekly bike safety program where they received a bike, helmet, and bike lock during graduation. Iraqi Community Center incorporated energetic exercise activities into their daily routine. And Empowering Youth and Families Outreach’s Summer Leadership Institute focused on equipping youth of color with the confidence and self-awareness to distinguish themselves as leaders inside and outside the classroom.
Youth at Living Well Kent participated in engineering challenges where they learned about utilizing the engineering process of “ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve.” They worked in groups to design bridges, towers, and other structures using a variety of materials. Meanwhile, Seattle Parks and Recreation’s James Baldwin Community Learning Center provided summer enrichment programming to 150 students focusing on STEAM, including art, science, engineering, carpentry, and theatre. They partnered with fellow BSK grantees STEM Paths Innovation Network, The Math Agency, and South End Stories. Youth at Communities of Rooted Brilliance learned about various chemical reactions through volcano and bottle rocket-making projects.
While there were many ways young people engaged in summer learning this year, a focus on academics shined at several programs. Upper-grade students at Chinese Information and Service Center partnered with first and second-grade students as reading buddies to increase reading comprehension by asking questions about their books and setting SMART goals together. New Futures, with Southwest Youth and Family Services, provided small group tutoring in various subjects. Iraqi Community Center’s summer programming emphasized academic advancement, incorporating activities that allowed children to explore and expand their math, science, and reading skills.
“It was immensely rewarding to witness their confidence grow as they tackled new challenges and developed a genuine love for learning,”Sadaf Zaman, Program Coordinator at Iraqi Community Center.
No matter what their focus was for the day, week, or summer, youth at Best Starts for Kids Expanded Learning Initiative grantees’ summer programs had an amazing time. As we reflect on this past summer, we are excited to see what next summer has in store.