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The Youth Organization Umbrella (Y.O.U.) held its Summer Showcase at Dewey Elementary School on Aug. 8. The Showcase demonstrated Y.O.U.’s nine-week summer program, offered at no cost to 350 young people who might otherwise have little or nothing in the way of organized programs available to them during the summer months.
Three rooms were put to good use during the Showcase. The gym provided a forum to talk to elementary and middle-school youth about their summer projects that included sports, gardening, cooking and pottery, among others. The art room was a forum for attendees to meet and discuss projects with high school-age students in their roles as aspiring artists, entrepreneurs and architects. The cafeteria was the venue for dance, theater, DJ-ing, singing and poetry.
Approximately 20 organizations collaborated in Y.O.U.’s summer programs, inlcuding the City of Evanston, School District 65, Northwestern University, the YMCA, YWCA and United Way.
“Some Day,” a poem written and recited by the young Manuel Diaz, described a future that held the promise of a college education, a reign of peace and the banishment of violence to the dust bin of history.
In “You Can Dance,” Destiny Foreman performed numerous one-handed cartwheels over the gym floor in what can only be described as a spirited performance. The recitation of a poem entitled “Days From Now” described “new days” when “good things will happen” and the unwelcome phenomena of racism, sexism and job loss will be eliminated. The capstone of these new days was described as a time when there would be “no need for the ’Hood when everybody will be good.”
Booths manned by young participants and containing photographs of the activities provided excellent demonstrations of what kept them busy over the summer.
Summer learning programs targeting low-income students can help close the achievement gap that has been attributed, at least in part, to cumulative learning loss during the summer, which has been shown to be steeper for low-income students than for others. Longitudinal studies indicate that the positive effects of summer learning programs endure for at least two years after participation.
The enthusiasm and commitment of Y.O.U. in its programmatic solutions to the summer inactivity of low-income young people literally burst upon the premises of Dewey School and left attendees at the showcase with the distinct impression that “Some Day” will arrive sooner because of Y.O.U. and its stimulating programs.