On Monday, September 27th, Cincinnati Public Schools had a teacher resource day, meaning that students would not have their regularly scheduled classes and extracurricular activities. This can cause a households for parents where both parents are working. Who is going to stay home and take care of the kids? Will the families be able to afford someone staying home to take care of the kids? Where else can the children go?
ABC answered that question by providing them with a day of fun, new activities for them to try. On 9/27, ABC hosted Community Connections (CC) Day at Winton Hills Academy, for K-6th grade students. CC Day is a piloted initiative at Cincinnati Public Schools, designed to assist families with care when students have the day off of regularly scheduled classes due to CPS professional development days.
“It’s like a day of summer camp in the middle of the school year,” said Deputy Director Rachel Stallings. “The students spend all day trying new things and learning new skills, all from the familiar and safe territory of their school.”
On this day, 69 Winton Hills students participated in activities such as flag football, soccer, coding, video game design, pottery, visual arts, street dance, poetry, and tennis. Each student received an ABC cinch bag full of goodies and a bottled water to keep them hydrated. The students also received breakfast, pizza, and salad from LaRosa’s, and a snack at the end of the program.
Onsite coordination for Community Connection Day was led by Kim Ronnebaum, the After School Coordinator at Winton Hills, and Shelby Zimmer, Resource Coordinator at Winton Hills (both ABC employees). Shelby and Kim worked with the program staff at ABC to ensure their students had a wide range of activities to keep them engaged while developing new skills. ABC partnered with professional organizations within the community to lead activities and lend their expertise to the children. Organizations such as Abrakadoodle, Elementz, Goal Getters, and more were on-site to provide high quality programming to students at Winton Hills.
Carmen Lawrence-Bille, ABC’s Director of Advancement, got a first-hand look at Community Connections Day, and shares her thoughts. “I looked at those students dancing and creating pottery and trying out coding for the first time, and I saw a younger version of myself. I saw a nine-year-old version of me, swinging a tennis racket for the first time and trying new dance moves. These kids started their days a little tentative, a little hesitant- and these amazing teachers brought them out of their shells and out of their comfort zones. As the day moved on, these students became so comfortable trying new things, even if it looked or felt silly. Can you imagine if everyone in our communities was so comfortable trying and learning new things? Imagine how different our world would be if all people were as open to new experiences as these students were.”
One elementary student told Carmen that if she couldn’t come to school today, she probably would have had to stay with a relative and help take care of her younger siblings. “I like taking care of my little sister,” she said as she finished making her pottery and prepared for a game of soccer outside, “but this is a lot more fun!”
ABC looks forward to partnering with CPS for the next Community Connections Day!