Profound is the word that comes to mind when
I think about the opportunities we share at
The REAL Program: the needs of the families
are profound, as we witness very loving,
hardworking parents struggling to create a supportive
home for their families; the efforts of teachers are profound, as they work tenaciously, through very difficult circumstances, in tired old school buildings that were once magnificent but now do not meet the needs of modern America; the experiences of the children are profound, as they often are the ones who accompany their parents to meetings with teachers and doctors or to pay bills or go to the store because they can speak English for their families. But mostly, our experiences here together are profound. We share pride and happiness with our REAL children as we help with their homework, read books together, play games or create art. These children are bright and eager to learn.
As we enter our 4th year, we see consistent attendance from volunteers, children and families. We enjoy a growing positive reputation as trusted, dedicated helpers for families, school and overall community in our work near the Brickett School in Lynn. Perhaps what is most exciting about these accomplishments is the knowledge that they translate to REAL impact in the lives of children.
Every day we hear stories about the joy, creativity and curiosity that The REAL Program inspires. We literally have heard hundreds of accounts of this nature — and that is appropriate for an organization whose mission is to improve literacy. Here is a little story that illuminates the work that dedicated volunteers can do in a few hours per week...
Many days, when the weather cooperates, we play outside with the kids, and the favorite activity of many is "4 Square," a game played with a rubber ball on a square court divided into quadrants. This game can get quite competitive, and the children know that the REAL rules apply — so when the ball hits the line you get the privelege of a “do over”.
One of the older students who loves this game is in the 5th grade. He lives in a busy, extended family household. Both of his parents speak limited English (his mom comes from Cape Verde; his dad from El Salvador) and they cannot help him with his school work. This child himself came to us with a short supply of both English skills and confidence.
But our young friend started learning his English pretty quickly during 4-Square, when he would frequently exclaim, “It hit the line!” spoken with a smile full of mischief. Of course, this made me laugh every time. In fact, one day I proclaimed that this would have to be a hashtag — #ItHitTheLine!
(And, wouldn’t you know... the younger players ran with this idea and started to make their fingers cross each other to show the symbol of a hashtag — meaning “it hit the line” — thereby having another chance to keep
themselves in the game! This is learning at The
So now our young man, who once had low confidence and limited communication skills, has a chance to play and learn and grow. He is an artist and he has a chance to be creative with our volunteer art teacher, Pat Landry, who gives our kids a voice through art. And Mary Hoar works one-on-one with this young guy and helps him complete his homework and read with him. Watching his metamorphosis is deeply profound and REAL.
His story moves me to once again say THANK YOU, to all who support The REAL Program. Your partnership helps us to meet our mission to improve literacy and build community. These children deserve our very best.