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DC Youth Beautify Local Rec Center

by Debra C.

Some 100 children from Washington, D.C.’s embattled Trinidad DC Youth Beautify Local Rec Centerneighborhood and other underserved city neighborhoods took part in a major event on July 15 celebrating community service and summer learning activities.

The kids pitched in to beautify the Trinidad Recreation Center by picking up trash, planting flowers and mulching. The Trinidad neighborhood made national news last summer due to controversial police checkpoints to curb excessive violence, including two dozen homicides -- one of which involved a 13-year-old boy.

In addition to the community service work, the young people demonstrated some of the engaging summer learning programs in which they are participating through various DC nonprofit groups.

Scott Richardson, K-12 coordinator for Learn and Serve America at the Corporation of National and Community Service, took part in the event, co-sponsored by the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation and the National Center for Summer Learning.

President Barack Obama recently declared July 9 as National Summer Learning Day, issuing a proclamation that read in part, “High-quality summer learning programs help children catch up, keep up, and work ahead .... Sustained public service can also dramatically impact summer learning loss. Students can challenge themselves and others through mentoring, environmental projects, and other meaningful volunteer work. Youth and their communities both benefit from these activities.”

Here’s what two of the youth participating in the Trinidad project had to say about their experience:

“The summer learning program keeps me engaged in something positive.” – Deonte E.

“It was a wonderful way to unite with all of the organizations who partner with the Center for Summer Learning. The day was full of friendship and fun, as we were able to meet and mingle with people just like us - people who understand the importance of summer learning, and have developed quality programs to prevent summer learning loss.” – Ta-Sha W.

To learn more about summer learning loss and programs across the country working to help kids fight it, see the National Center for Summer Learning at http://www.summerlearning.org/.

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