Wednesday, April 13, 2011

School on Wheels Part 2 of 3 - Programming

School on Wheels.  Programming makes a difference and this organization seems to have done it all right.  They're committed to assisting children weather the circumstantial challenges facing them today in order to insure a proper education which will carry them into a brighter future. 

A new backpack filled with new supplies.  Don't you remember? You were in middle school starting a new semester every fall.  Shopping for new supplies was the best part!  It totally made up for losing the freedom of summer vacation as you ventured back into the classroom.  It made going back to school fun!  Every child  deserves the experience and these backpacks help, not only with the desperately needed supplies, but with the self-esteem that helps them succeed.  Nearly 6,500 homeless children each year are given the opportunity to experience the 'I'm normal' feeling of getting back to school. 

Children who are forced to move frequently, who have no quiet place to study, who are worried about the family and even the next meal are distracted.  A routine of study is nearly impossible.  The impact on their education is immeasurable. They fall behind their classmates.  The fear of facing teachers and classmates knowing that you are not prepared must be a tremendous burden.  Wondering if it will be necessary to change schools next week (again) must be simply overwhelming. "What's the use" I hear in my mind as I write about these obstacles.

There is hope. Nearly 1500 volunteer tutors travel to these children and help them to concentrate on education.  Helping to bring them current with their studies, these extraodrinary volunteers make it possible for these children to advance - even graduate.  They prove to these children that someone actually cares about them - their studies and their future!

During the 4 weeks ending April 23rd, these tutors are talking with students in all grades about college.  Many pupils have no connection to higher education and perhaps see no future there.  'College Month' has been created to show them the importance of further education.  At the high school level, School on Wheels participants are offered information and even transportation to College Fairs, Campus tours and workshops.  It becomes real.  It becomes possible! School on Wheels even has their own scholarship program.

A toll-free phone number
In the age of everyone-is-connected-all-the-time by cell phones, smart phones, cable, Internet, email and text messaging, what would it be like to have to use a pay phone.  Do you even remember pay phones?  They used to have them all over the place.  When was the last time you used one?  If you were a student living in your car knowing you're falling way behind the curve at school, how would you get help.  School on Wheels provides a toll-free number.  A small thing that turns out to be absolutely immense!

And More
Lost school records.  How do you enroll without the records from your last school?  School on Wheels will help find these records and even assist in the new school registration.
Uniforms.  According to the website, there are schools insisting that each child wear a uniform even though this isn't a legal demand.  Vouchers are presented to children facing this situation.
Bus Tokens.  A child experiencing homelessness won't always find a yellow school bus at the corner ready to take them to the front door of their classroom. Over 3,000 tokens are given to children each year who are experiencing this transportation crisis.
Learning Centers.  When possible, students can go to one of two learning centers in Los Angeles.  Computers, libraries and tutors are available to them in a study-friendly atmosphere.

School on Wheels has great ideas and the programs to match.  So, if this organization is the winner of the Responsible Referrals donation, what will they use the money for?

NEXT POST:  Funding

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