Summer break – for many of us – evokes images of beach vacations, summer camp, BBQs, and a host of other fun activities for grown-ups and kids alike. But for the 24% of our city that lives below the poverty line, summer is not only about fun in the sun – it can actually be a fearful time, full of challenges for families.
The threats to children from low-income families can be even more significant - and almost 2 out of 5 children (roughly 38%) live below the poverty line in Dallas.
So why is serving these kids so particularly important in the summer months?:
Any kid can fall behind academically during the summer months. But for children in low-income families, the loss can be more dramatic, since they might lack access to tutoring, "enriching experiences" (like camp), or parents who have the time, resources, or education themselves to help keep kids' learning intact. This common problem among low-income families is referred to as summer learning loss, or the “summer slide.”
In fact, some estimate that low-income students return to school about one month behind where they left off in May, resulting in a cumulative loss of nearly a year by their senior year.
Excessive heat, lack of structure, lack of adult supervision, and even hunger can contribute to an involvement in crime by low-income kids and teens. Without the structure that school provides - and a lack of affordable childcare options or other activities - many kids and teens find themselves with a lot of time on their hands and little to no supervision.
Crime, including violent crime, tends to spike, which affects entire neighborhoods. This jeopardizes the futures of at-risk youth, whether they're participating in crime or victims of it.
Summer break can wreak havoc on a child’s health. Some face weight gain due to physical inactivity. Many others, used to receiving free or reduced-cost (and healthy) meals at school, face a significant "food insecurity." And of course the heat - especially when a family lacks the resources to fight it - can create health problems for entire families.
Fortunately, Watermark has Ministry Partners involved in combating all of these issues. We'd love for you to jump in NOW to combat these serious summertime issues.
In education: Join Readers 2 Leaders for their Summer Camp, which helps reinforce the literacy instruction students receive during the school year. Assist teachers with educational activities as a Children’s Night Champion at Interfaith Family Services. Or read with kids in West Dallas at Brother Bill’s Helping Hand. See www.watermark.org/go for information on these and other opportunities to serve.
In relationship: Ministries provide much-needed activities for kids and teens throughout the summer – keeping them busy and giving them a healthy outlet for their restless energy. Join our South Dallas team at C-Kids Bible Club, which provides a safe place where kids can learn about Christian principles using a "Backyard Bible Club" format. Or connect with kids through a variety of programs at Brother Bill’s Helping Hand as they make it a "Summer to Remember." See www.watermark.org/go to learn more - or find other ways to love on kids (and keep them engaged).
In providing food and health care: Serve meals to adults and kids participating in the Summer Camp in South Dallas. Help restock shelves and serve neighbors at Brother Bill’s Grocery Store. Or “stuff your trunk” and take food directly to an organization in Dallas, Plano, or Fort Worth. As for health care, learn about serving with our QuestCare Clinic by attending an open house. You can learn more about all these opportunities at - you guessed it! - www.watermark.org/go.
As you can see, there are lots of ways that you and your friends and family can make a difference in a child’s life this summer! Enjoy the gifts God has given you to enjoy – He is a good Father and has given us a lot to enjoy and be thankful for. So remember that an hour of your time, an encouraging word, or a donation can go a long way in showing a child – or a parent! – how good our Father is and how much He loves them.
To learn more about getting involved locally and abroad check out our watermark.org/blog/external-focus for our weekly blog!