Kids and Culture gives a taste of UM college life

Ah, the glory days of being a kid, when trading sandwiches at lunch was a top priority and homework meant using scissors, glue sticks and brightly colored construction paper. Many UM students had the opportunity to be kids again last Friday, spending the day painting, dancing and cheering with an excited group of kids.

These UM students volunteered their time with third graders from Little River Elementary School for UM’s annual Kids and Culture event. The kids came to UM as a field trip for a fun-filled day on a college campus.

The approximately 150 elementary school students at UM were divided into four groups, led by UM volunteers throughout campus. Among the activities were a “magic” chemistry show, cultural dance presentations and a lunch buffet at UM’s own Chartwell’s cafeterias.

“It’s all you can eat?” the kids marveled as they stacked their plates high with pizza, burgers and brownies.

The kids were very enthusiastic to participate in the activities along with their friends. It was hard to miss them walking around the lake chanting UM cheers as if the University was their home. They were interested to know what college looks and feels like.

“Do you have a baseball team?” said participant Jason Vaughn when he saw UM students playing baseball on the intramural fields. He also liked to watch fish frequently visible in the lake.

Vaughn and his fellow students are underprivileged children from Little River Elementary in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami. The school has been designated as an “F” school by the state through the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The students have been part of a mentoring program performed by college students to help socio-economically disadvantaged kids realize the benefits of going to college.

“The day is a field trip for an eight-week mentoring program in which we taught them about the benefits of higher education,” Paco Castallon, former chair of Kids and Culture, said.

While the day was aimed at mentoring elementary school kids, the UM volunteers found the day just as fun and fulfilling.

“I wish I were a kid again,” said Jason Fraser, a Kids and Culture volunteer for the day. “It’s good to be with the kids. They get a tour of UM at an early age and hopefully they’ll be ‘Canes soon.”

>> For more information about Kids and Culture, contact the Butler Volunteer Services Center at 305-284-GIVE.

Bryce Pham can be reached at