On this autumnal equinox, we want share a few reflections about WGBY’s 2014 Summer of Fun & Learning. With the essential help of 5 bright summer interns, WGBY’s Community Engagement and Education Department was able to engage preschool through fourth-grade students in PBS Ready To Learn math-and literacy-based transmedia content. These children also received books at each of our visits, some of which were donated by Carson-Dellosa Publishing. In our efforts to help stem the summer reading slide, we made weekly visits to Head Start on Carew Street, the YMCA of Greater Springfield and WGBY’s North End Center for Literacy and Learning, located at Gerena Community School, a site where we worked with Project Coach — an outreach organization rooted in the Springfield’s North End community that trains and mentors high school coaches.
From the first day of our visits, we saw smiles and bright eyes on beautiful faces of children as we read together and played PBS KIDS LAB games. Interns also designed fun learning activities such as pinning the ball on home plate, reading character dialogue, and cutting intricate paper Kapok trees. Each time we departed, we heard enthusiastic thank you’s and questions about when we were coming back. As we departed from our last visit to one site, we marveled at how children shouted to us from their playground fence, calling out good-byes and beckoning us to come again.
While our summer interns have since moved on, WGBY hopes to be able to continue such summer programs that pair high-quality PBS educational resources with children in high-needs communities.