For our fourth and final Great Give program feature, we met with Daron Morse, Director of Youth Educational Programs, to learn how afterschool programming makes a difference in the lives of 60 students who call Project Grow home.
What are common barriers faced by students your program serves?
The children face so many challenges but also have so much potential. The largest barrier that most of the students face is overcoming the unstable past they experienced prior to entry into our program. When children move many times in a year and their whole life becomes uprooted with each move, the continuity of things like schooling, friendships, and secure attachments becomes jeopardized. When you add in family barriers such as income, transportation, language, and education, the children have so much to overcome to just be on par with their peers. Fortunately, our students are also very resilient and given the right environment, are able to be happy, healthy, and productive children.
What are some key goals for students who attend Project Grow?
The first goal is that the children feel safe, both physically and emotionally. This comes with time and occurs as the children experience stability. This is where Project Grow relies on Adopt-A-Family’s housing programs to ensure that the family is stable. Our second goal is to help each student succeed academically and reach their full potential. Although students often start our program more than a year below grade level, we are proud to say that on average 98% of students are promoted at the end of the year. Click To Tweet
From the perspective of the students you serve, what would you like the community to know (that they may not know) about the work that you do?
What comes to mind is the misconception that afterschool programs are just a form of babysitting or a place where students “just go” to pass time.The reality is, afterschool programs are a vital part of students’ days. Click To Tweet
Our children are provided with the academic support that they need while they are given the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with teachers and peers that they may not have time for during the school day. Afterschool is also a time that allows children to communicate what’s important to them. To put it simply, it all comes down to trust. Considering the challenging backgrounds our students have faced with homelessness and trauma, it is critical they have a place to truly feel safe and have their voices heard. They deserve it.
What makes your job so meaningful?
Essentially, it is knowing that we are making a difference in the kids’ lives. We see it day after day, year after year.To see our students happy and enjoy their lives, that’s incredible. Click To Tweet
Is there a recent success story you’d like to share that shows how the program makes an impact?
Two children who graduated from Project Grow recently surprised us with a visit and shared how the program is still impacting their lives to this day. The two students, both now in high school, specifically highlighted how the program has shaped their study skills and habits. Even though their high school math homework may be challenging, Project Grow provided an academic foundation and established a level of work ethic that is helping them and other students long-term, throughout their high school years and beyond.
When you give with your heart for this year’s Great Give, you are creating the opportunity for our children and families to grow. We hope you will choose to #GiveAAF17.
Read all four Adopt-A-Family Great Give program features:
- Having a Home Makes a Difference
- Serving Our Community’s Most Vulnerable Families
- Preventing Homelessness in Palm Beach County
- Afterschool Programming Changes Lives