On July 7, more than 1,800 students and mentors descended on the American Royal Complex for Discovery Day, the annual culminating event to the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools six-week summer initiative. Students took part in a variety of hands-on technology and engineering activity stations, from creating rotocopters and building a bridge to feeling the tremors of an earthquake. Judging by the excitement of participating students, Discovery Day achieved the desired magnitude of success.
"The energy of the students was infectious as they poured into Hale Arena," said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund. "I shared their excitement as I saw our vision for Freedom Schools brought to life in Kansas City."
Freedom of Mind, SpiritInspired by the civil rights activities of 1964's "Freedom Summer," CDF Freedom Schools are an inventive, creative approach to summer education enrichment designed to serve children in urban communities. The schools use teaching techniques that nurture both the mind and spirit, featuring an activity-based curriculum that strongly emphasizes reading, writing, multi-generational mentoring, conflict resolution, and leadership.
With support from the Kauffman Foundation, Kansas City's first CDF Freedom Schools site opened in 1995. Eighteen more local sites have opened since, leading to the Children's Defense Fund to recognize Kansas City's as the most successful CDF Freedom Schools initiative in the nation.
A recent study by Philliber Research Associates evaluated more than 3,000 students from the eighteen sites from 2005-2007. Among a number of compelling findings, the study found that when the CDF Freedom Schools model is properly implemented, children achieve academically, develop strong character, and strengthen relationships with family and community.
A Day to RememberIt's no wonder Discovery Day is the most highly anticipated day in the six-week CDF Freedom Schools program. Where else can a child:
- see a bomb- and arson-detecting robot in action,
- take a ride in a space shuttle,
- send a shuttle, rotocopter, or blimp into flight,
- communicate with friends via radio, or
- build a bridge?
It's all in one place, all in the same day. Students experience the thrills of technology and engineering and learn how learning can be a real blast.
"Discovery Day proves to be a success year after year, and today was no different," said Gloria Jackson, program director at the Kauffman Foundation. "We enjoy seeing the excitement in the students' eyes and watching them experience something new and educational."
For more information about the CDF Freedom Schools initiative, visit www.kcfreedomschools.com or call the program office at (816) 231-9669.