With the start of summer break in the next few days, many of Sampson’s children and youth will have limited or no options for a safe, positive and fun experience for their “summer vacation.” Why should these children and youth be denied a plethora of benefits of summer programs ranging from academic enrichment, field trips, career development programs to paid internships and apprenticeships for youth? No matter the cost, it is paramount that we keep our children and youth learning, safe and healthy during summer as well.
Many of us are aware of the African proverb that states it takes a village to raise a child. And as a community, we all have a responsibility for the general well-being of our youth, particularly when many of them will spend over nine weeks of potentially unstructured and unsupervised time during this summer. So, what are concerned parents, especially low-income working parents who just don’t have the resources and are not able to afford a summer program for their children, to do?
With so many of our children being unable to take part in high-quality summer learning programs and are at risk of losing two to three months of reading proficiency and math skills this summer, it is way past time that we , as a community, make our youth a priority, encouraging them in their attempts to do the right thing. It is also way past time that our community leaders must be proactive in seeking to create a community vision for summer learning for our children and youth.
It was my passion about making life better for our children and youth that led me to suggest in my June 22, 2014 opinion column a need for a new community vision for summer learning in Sampson County. It was then that I admonished, “Let this summer be the time we start creating a broader awareness for summer activities to better serve all our youth.” In that same 2014 opinion column, I stated, “ We can start something now that will continue for generations to come, helping our youth achieve their personal best by letting summer be a time of continued learning which will help them maintain hope for a brighter future.”
With our public schools “closing” in the next few days, I still stand by my assertion that it is everyone’s business—a shared responsibility—to keep our kids learning, safe and healthy during summer. Believing that everyone counts, I am still waiting on that epic shift in how we treat summer learning and the lack of opportunities for most of our children and youth in Sampson County.
No matter the cost, we have a moral obligation to help all our children and youth to remain engaged in summer learning activities that will sustain, expand and grow their hope, keeping their dreams alive. Anything less is unacceptable.
It’s time we put a community vision for summer learning in place in Sampson County.
Larry Sutton is a retired school teacher from Clinton High School.