The UM campus was filled with the sounds of frolicking fourth graders from Little River Elementary School of Liberty City last Friday.
The students visited UM after five weeks of learning about the benefits and realities of college life from UM students involved in the Kids and Culture program.
“Our goal is to reach inner-city kids in the Miami area and inform them about the possibilities of obtaining a higher education,” Jenn Haddok, co-president of Kids and Culture, said.
“Many of the students we visit haven’t had contact with college students and don’t realize their potential for attending college and their potential for success in college,” Haddock said.
During their visit, children were exposed to a variety of cultural dances, a magic show performed by a UM chemistry professor and a tour of the Lowe Art Museum, among other activities.
“We got to learn good science and go to the museum today,” said Craig Washington, one of the fourth graders. “We also saw a dorm room and a classroom with a big TV.”
Haddock says that organizers learned as much from the experience as the children did.
“I have really enjoyed the contact with the elementary school kids,” Haddock said. “The way they open up to us and really listen to what we have to say is amazing.”
“It’s so rewarding to bond with these kids,” Haddock said.
Kids and Culture began four years ago as a program under LINK.
This is their first year as an independent organization.
They are expanding the program to include events throughout the entire year and to encourage more UM students to become involved so that they can work with more inner-city schools in Miami-Dade County.
Currently, the organization has nine classroom instructors and six officers who are students at UM.
Those involved with the program say it has been a beneficial experience.
“It’s a wonderful program,” said Diana Vega, a classroom instructor. “They really look up to us.”
“It is a great program because it exposes the children to a new environment that they are unaware of,” said Ms. Church, a UM alumna and one of the participating elementary school teachers.
“The program gives these kids the encouragement they may not get at home, and they really respond well to having us in their classroom,” Haddock said.
For information, email Kidsnculture@hotmail.com or stop by UC 240, the Butler Volunteer Service Center, for more information.
Kathleen Fordyce can be contacted at K4Dice@aol.com