Contact: Jennifer Hammill, Director Community Relations
CAMDEN - Today Center For Family Services Head Start welcomed 154 preschool students into the Healthy Living, Healthy Learning summer program. The eight week program runs from Monday, July 1st to Friday, August 23rd at Head Statt sites in Camden and Clementon, NJ.
As children and parents arrived for the first day, they were greeted by staff members promoting health and education. Parents received information on healthy lifestyles and nutrition, vegetable and flower seeds for a summer garden, and free books to encourage at home reading.
The summer program, funded by Campbell Soup Foundation, TD Bank, and the Camden County Department of Childrens Services, provides a safe environment where children can maintain the educational gains made during the school year. The focus is on promoting kindergarten readiness and healthy eating and exercise habits. Children are provided with a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and snack each day. Parent involvement is strongly encouraged.
“Engaging children in summer learning opportunities is critically important in setting children on a path to achieve successful educational outcomes,” says Merilee Rutolo, Head Start Director/Vice President. “By continuing our high quality early childhood education program for Head Start children throughout the summer, we have the opportunity to bridge the school readiness gap between children in distressed neighborhoods and their middle and upper class peers.”
More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college, as provided by the National Summer Learning Association. Additionally, most children gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break. For the underprivileged students being served at CFS Head Start, these are significant issues. High quality programs such as Healthy Living, Healthy Learning play an important role in reversing these effects.
About Center For Family Services
Center For Family Services is a non-profit organization providing a comprehensive continuum of care through more than 60 programs designed to help individuals lead capable, responsible, fulfilled lives in strong families and healthy communities. The mission of Center For Family Services is to support and empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve a better life through vision, hope, and strength. For more information visit www.centerffs.org