YMCA participating in pilot program for at risk students - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

YMCA participating in pilot program for at risk students

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The YMCA of Greater Louisville is participating a pilot program for at-risk rising first and second graders. The YMCA of Greater Louisville is participating a pilot program for at-risk rising first and second graders.
John Lincoln John Lincoln
Dr. Terry Brooks Dr. Terry Brooks

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky's kids are just about in the middle of the pack when it comes to their well-being. An annual report card for states out this week, KIDS COUNT from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Kentucky 34th in the nation for overall child well-being. The report also finds a disturbing trend: more Kentucky kids, 27 percent of all Bluegrass children, are living in poverty.

"You can just flat out track that wherever economic well-being data is, that's where health and education are going," said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, which contributed to the report. "It's what we call almost a Paul Revere indicator. It tells you what's coming."

But though Kentucky has improved in educational indicators, Brooks said there's still a way to go.

"With education, the takeaway is really more questions than answers," he said. "We know that we are improving but the real question is why do two out of every three kids in Kentucky remain unable to do reading and math at a minimal national level?"

The YMCA of Greater Louisville is participating a pilot program for at-risk rising first and second graders that could go a long way toward changing that.

The smiles tell you the children are spending this summer having fun, but your ears will tell you it's not your typical kids camp.

"We didn't want it to look like summer camp because it is different and it has very different goals," said John Lincoln, Regional Childcare Director for YMCA Louisville. "It's not school and it's not play. It's kind of both but there's a very important focus."

Lincoln said the summer learning program is being tried out something for the first time in this area, one of 49 pilot programs happening across the country. It's trying to keep at-risk kids from Wheatley and Wellington elementary schools in Louisville from falling behind their friends' reading skills. Both schools have a high-percentage of low-income families.

"They basically start close to the same level or just below if the kids haven't been in preschool," Lincoln said. "Then as they go through that first year of kindergarten, they learn at the same rate but then summer hits and we have that gap start to widen because they don't have the same experiences throughout the summer."

So for six weeks, each morning, the kids get lessons in reading and writing. Each afternoon, a fun field trip or activity backs up what they're learning. Each night there's homework for their parents.

"We ask the parents to pledge that we're going to read to their children 20 minutes a night," Lincoln said. "We ask them that they're going to support everything that we're trying to do with this program."

Each of the kids started the summer out a little bit behind. By the time the summer is over, Lincoln says the goal is to have them right back on grade-level.

To read the KIDS COUNT report for both Kentucky and Indiana, click here.

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