While other kids spent the summer sleeping in late and watching television, some local children in Ypsilanti did something a little unusual—they hit the books!

After weeks of studying hard, the children were more than ready for a special day to celebrate their success. On Friday, August 19th, the HealthCap Helping Hands team helped them do just that in a way they are sure to remember.

After a delicious lunch, volunteers from HealthCap Helping Hands organized stations for children and parents with traditional and silly field day games.  Children played ladder ball and bean bag toss, unwrapped star burst candies singlehandedly, and ran relay races while suited up in flippers, goggles, and inner tubes. Children also stuffed brand new back packs with the supplies they will need for a successful 2016/2017 school year.

Volunteers from HealthCap Helping Hands said: “We loved seeing the transformation of the nervous, shy children who arrived into vibrant and energetic children giving out high-fives and hugs by the end of the event.”

By the end of the Summer Games, the bright smiles on the faces of the children matched perfectly with the late August sunshine. But the afternoon of outdoor fun was only one reason to feel good. The nineteen children who enjoyed the Summer Games spent weeks working hard to get ready for the new school year and made a lot of progress.

Forty empirical studies have found incontrovertible evidence of a pattern of “summer learning loss”[1], particularly for low-income youth, according to Johns Hopkins School of Education. In addition, gang violence has increased in Ypsilanti during the last two summers.

“Parents and community members have become increasingly concerned about the safety of their children,” Rhonda Weathers, executive director of SOS explains. “We thought it was important to provide free summer programing to children in Ypsilanti.”

SOS Community Services decided to partner with Family Learning Institute, and pool their resources to create a program that would allow children to continue progressing academically during the summer.

The two agencies developed the Summer Success Academy. For five weeks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Family Learning Institute tutored children in reading, writing and math each morning. SOS engaged children in hands-on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) activities each afternoon. At the end of the program, the children were asked if any of them learned something new this summer. Some children mentioned new crafts or science experiments they had learned.

One little girl said, “I learned how to read.”

Now, these children are taking everything they learned into the new school year—along with their new school supplies and great memories of the Summer Success Academy and Summer Games.

Support for the Summer Success Academy was provided by HealthCap Helping Hands, Family Learning Institute, Food Gatherers, and SOS Community Services. Delicious food for the Summer Games was provided by HealthCap Helping Hands, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, and Biggby Coffee Ypsilanti.


[1] Johns Hopkins School of Education. Why Summer Learning Deserves a Front-Row Seat in the Education Reform Arena.  http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/Journals/spring2010/why-summer-learning/