Children in the Real Interactive Summer Learning Experience, RISE, camp graduated Friday, July 26, at the Davis Street Community center among friends, family and their summer camp teachers.
The program, which started last year, was put in place by a group of Brenau University students, including Anna Lopera and Hannah Norwood, partnering with the Gainesville Housing Authority and the Georgia Food Bank, to help children retain knowledge over their summer vacation. Last year the program had 17 students enrolled and this year 40 took advantage of the summer camp.
“We saw the need for the program through the test scores and we realized we don’t know what these kids eat over the summer or the attention they get. We see that when they get back in the fall they’ve forgotten everything they just learned,” said lead teacher Ana Lopera. “So this program is in place to help prevent summer learning loss.”
Lopera, an early education junior at Brenau University, said they use the common core standards for the year the kids just got out of as their teaching curriculum basis to reinforce what the children just learned. The education standards from the previous year are also reinforced with a nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack provided by the Georgia Food Bank and exercise.
Regular exercise is in place through recess everyday but Lopera also noted that this year the students took swimming with Brenau Swim Coach Blaire Bachman at the University’s pool.
“The kids turned into swimmers in such a short period of time,” Lopera said “They just lost their fear and are now very confident in the water. They’re getting something healthy to eat, their getting exercise and an education through this camp.”
Bill Lightfoot, dean of the Brenau University College of Business and Mass Communication, helped organize the camp and expects to see the numbers grow to 70-80 students next year.
“There are a lot of partners who came to work together to work on this project because we know it has tremendous impact,” Lightfoot said. “It has impact on all of us. This is our community and we’re very proud of all the hard work that has been put in by everybody here.”
“It’s just grown so much and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished and I know that RISE is going to grow into something bigger and bigger each year,” Lopera said.