Students who are in the foster care system often face additional obstacles in staying active and engaged in extracurricular activities. ABC’s KISR! Program works with caregivers to provide these children with access to a variety of activities throughout the year, including the summer.
At the end of each school year, KISR! Enrichment Coordinator, Kyle Vismara, makes every effort to get CPS students that are in the foster care system engaged in fun summer activities. Vismara works with students and caregivers to find activities that pique the children’s interests. He also works with educators, community organizations and local businesses to find the right fit for each student.
During the 2019 summer, KISR! students participated in an array of programs throughout the Cincinnati area. These programs gave the students something to look forward to while they were on summer break.
The majority of KISR! students participated in summer day camps at the YMCA and local Cincinnati Recreation Centers. These organizations offer a safe place for the children to spend their time during the warm summer months. Additionally, summer camps provide each student with meals and healthy snacks.
The reason why many KISR! families took advantage of the summer day camp offerings is because of the convenient hours and locations these programs offer. According to Vismara, “for KISR! students, there are additional challenges keeping the students on a regular schedule. We have to find summer programs that are convenient for the caregivers, making it easy for them to get the students to and from the summer program.”
Many of the summer camps offered by the YMCA and Cincinnati Recreation Commission are close to the students’ home or caregivers’ place of employment. This makes transportation much more manageable for the families we serve. In addition to summer day camp, many of the campers took advantage of the additional opportunity to take swimming lessons at the YMCA. KISR! students in summer camps were even able to participate in weekly field trips to local area attractions, parks, and museums.
KISR! students also attended Stepping Stones summer day camp program in Milford, Ohio. This unique summer camp experience is specially designed to help students with disabilities find pathways to independence and build life-long friends (Source). Students at Stepping Stones are exposed to lots of fun indoor and outdoor activities, including swimming, fishing, and boating.
This year, a handful of KISR! students attended the Images of Excellence Summer Camp. Images of Excellence provides academic enrichment services, mentoring, and leadership development on a year-round basis.
During their time at Images of Excellence, summer camp students worked on polishing up their academic skills using a project-based approach. “We worked in partnership with the Hamilton County Waste Department, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, the Avondale Library, and Wave Foundation through Newport Aquarium to make learning fun for our summer campers,” stated Desirae Shaw, of Images of Excellence.
Campers also had lots of off-site learning experiences, including trips to the Cincinnati Children’s Museum, Cincinnati Zoo, and Freedom Center. While these field trips were meant to be more educational, the students also went on numerous field trips that were designed to be fun and recreational. They visited the Kids Expo at Winton Woods Park, a CRC swimming pool, The Place Skating Arena, and Kings Island.
Some of the families we serve expressed a need for more flexibility than offered at traditional summer day camps. Vismara was able to arrange for two KISR! students to take boxing classes at The Punch House. ABC provided these students, one boy and one girl, with an unlimited class-pass membership so they could attend classes when it was most convenient for the students and their families.
During the summer of 2019, KISR! also had one student participate in an equestrian therapy program at Muddy Waters Equestrian Park. Because this student had previously been involved in the program, they expressed an interest in horseback riding as their summer fun activity this year as well.
Kids who expressed interest in learning more about music and poetry were provided with a pass to Elementz. Elementz uses Hip Hop culture to teach teens about respect, community, and self-expression. At their Urban Art studio in Over The Rhine, students learned about music production, poetry, dance, and much more.
Another summer of fun has wrapped up in Cincinnati! ABC is proud to play a vital role in ensuring that students who are in foster care get to participate in activities that spark their interest. We truly believe in the power of extracurricular activities, and strive to ensure that every CPS student has access to opportunities like this. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, ABC was able to offer a wide variety of programs to KISR! students throughout the Greater Cincinnati area.