Development, News

FLOC Invites you to Concert for a Cause!

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Looking to enjoy music and family fun this summer while supporting For Love of Children (FLOC) and other nonprofits? Check out Concert4aCause for a charitable summer time event!

What is it?

For Love of Children (FLOC) is honored to be one of 12 nonprofits selected as a beneficiary from Acumen Solutions’ inaugural Concert4aCause (C4C) where music enthusiasts can enjoy a concert filled with talented musicians, family friendly activities, and great food and beverages. The headliners for C4C will be winner of The Voice season 3 Cassadee Pope, country group High Valley, popular party band Gonzo’s Nose, and renowned children’s band Rocknoceros. It is going to be a great event for great causes!

How can you help?

  • Click the links and find out more about the event and the nonprofits that you will be supporting.
  • Sign up! Join the fun and bring the family. Tickets are on sale now here
  • Spread the word about it to friends, colleagues, and family and make this a successful event that benefits a lot of great causes!

We hope to see you there this summer!

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(Laura Evans is the Development Associate at FLOC.)

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News, Outdoor Education Center, Scholars Program

Middle School Pen Pals

For the third year in a row, FLOC Scholars in Washington have been pen pals this semesterhello with FLOC Leaders in Action students in West Virginia. These middle schoolers live less than two hours away from one another, but those 70 miles represent a significant difference between the urban environment of DC and the rural environment of Jefferson County. As program wraps up this month in both places, we thought we’d take a look back at the letters these middle school students have written over the last few months and the relationships they’ve formed in the process.

DC Scholars 6th Grade Pen Pals Project (2)

The letters begin with lots of questions:

“What is your school like?”  “What is your favorite thing to do outside?” “What do you want to do when you grow up?” “Who likes Chick-fil-a?” “Do you like to read? Do you like to play? Do you like homework?”

And continue with requested answers:

“When I grow up, I want to be an underwater mechanic.” “My winter break was good. I did watch The Hunger Games. It was good, but it was a bit sad.” “We’ve missed about a week and a half of school because of snow. We went sledding, snowboarding, and shoveled snow.” 

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They’re chatty, inquisitive, friendly, and colorful, punctuated with drawings and P.S.’s and  jokes. They talk about their favorite foods and TV shows, video games and YouTube stars, Star Wars and Deadpool and Alvin and the Chipmunks, winter break snow and spring break plans. They shatter misconceptions (No, the West Virginians don’t live in barns. Yes, there are places to sled in DC.) There’s even a little touch of election politics conversation.

WV LIA Charles Town Middle School Pen Pal Project

Most of all, it’s clear that for all these students live in different communities, they have a lot more in common than not. It’s also clear that friendships are blossoming via their writing.

“It has been a good experience to communicate with you… I hope to see you in summer camp.”

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(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager at FLOC.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program

Jubilee Thursdays

February was the start of the math program at Jubilee Housing. FLOC has had a relationship with Jubilee Housing and its youth services programming for many years. This started with Jubilee referring students, then progressed to hosting a program onsite. This is the second year that FLOC has been able to take a math tutoring program to Jubilee during the spring semester.

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Last week during program, one of the tutors, Jason, asked his student, Richard, if he would like to play trashketball after he took a practice timed test. In response, Richard pulled out his backpack… which just happened to have a basketball hoop inside of it. Throughout the night the kids and tutors would take turns playing basketball. A couple of the students are on math fact units and are studying to take a fluency test. In order to make studying more fun and just little competitive, the tutors decided they would play H.O.R.S.E. Before they could shoot, students had to answer a question first. The game got a little competitive between students and tutors, but of course, the students won!

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Incorporating games and activities into tutoring like this allows the students to stay more engaged and makes learning more interactive.

(Nicole Morgenstern is an NTP site coordinator. This spring, she’s supervising the Thursday tutoring program at Jubilee Housing.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Student Spotlight

Meet Marley

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Marley is an energetic third grader who has participated in FLOC’s Neighborhood Tutoring Program for two years now. One of her favorite things about FLOC is “how fun it is” to work with her math tutor, Kristen. The pair often plays a game like memory to practice math facts like multiplication or division. Working with her tutor is certainly paying off; last quarter, Marley received 4s in math on her report card, a mark that correlates with excellent work. “I’m trying to get a 4 in reading on my next report card,” she said excitedly. “We’re going to have a pretend spelling bee so that I can keep learning new words.”

Marley said that coming to FLOC has made her more comfortable participating in class, because she’s confident that she can answer her teacher’s questions without hesitation. She hopes to continue attending FLOC programs as she gets older, since “everyone is so kind, and they make learning a lot of fun.”

(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator at FLOC.)

Scholars Program

4 Scholars Life Lessons… through Theater

All the World’s a Stage

Theater is a way of life. For those of us who have taken a theater class or have had any exposure to theater, we know that performing in front of an audience — no matter how small — ultimately affirms our character. Do we tend to move toward the spotlight or away from it?  Last semester, FLOC Scholars had the opportunity to participate in a theater elective. They learned the basics of acting and used those skills to perform short plays, which they themselves wrote. Little did our Scholars know they would intentionally receive life lessons along the way.

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Expect the Unexpected

As the semester began, elective participants familiarized themselves with the concept of improv, a branch of acting that utilizes the unexpected as a gateway to performance. Improv prepares actors to expect the unexpected and to remain calm when things don’t go as planned. In one activity, scholars were tasked with creating a never ending story (think telephone, but in narrative form). One scholar would start the story and the next scholar would add on and so forth until time was called. Stories went in all directions. One started as a story of a boy in a farmhouse but ended as a story of a giant octopus destroying D.C. Another began with an evil witch on a mountain but concluded with a family trying to keep their fried chicken restaurant open. The activity taught students that no matter what was thrown at them — whether a witch or a farmhouse — they had to make it work and fit within the context of their ultimate goal.

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Emotions Make Us Human

Students transitioned from improv to acting and were given multiple skits to exercise their acting muscles. Acting requires a lot of an actor; it requires looking into your own emotions and pulling out the ones that are most appropriate for a particular scene. Acting, therefore, can be a very introspective activity. Scholars explore their personal backgrounds and must figure out which memories and experiences inform specific emotions. What do you need to think about in order to feel anger, for example, or excitement, or grief? One Scholar mentioned her most recent birthday party as a source of happiness. Another mentioned being bullied as a source for sadness. Whichever memory they chose, Scholars had the chance to figure out what triggered certain emotional responses and then to decipher if those responses were appropriate for that situation.

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Take Pride in Your Work

After practicing their acting skills, Scholars were asked to write and perform their own plays. They used their creativity to develop stories, dialogue, staging, and even props. At the end of the process, scholars had created a multitude of plays set in a variety of locations and genres. Some clever titles included Mom and Orangina Save Mars, an epic story about a mother and daughter saving Mars from alien invaders; The Crazy Adventures of Bob and Dave, a thinkpiece on the relationship between a boy and his pet dinosaur; and Empire, a reimagining of the hit network drama of the same name. When it was time to perform, Scholars used the skills they had learned previously to deliver well thought-out and one-of-a-kind plays that showcased their imagination and creativity. Their energy was magnetic. By performing something they had written themselves, Scholars took ownership of their work, which built up their confidence. They took pride in the fact that hard work and effort truly did pay off in the end.

(Tiken Savang is the Scholars Program Fellow working with grades 6 and 11.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News

Welcome to Savoy!

This school year at FLOC has been the start of a new partnership with Savoy Elementary in Anacostia. While this is a smaller program it allows us to work in a school to help kids who may not otherwise be able to make it to the FLOC office. With FLOC being during Savoy’s after school program, the kids are already out of class by the time we get there and there are always a couple kids waiting excited. There are very few things better in tutoring than seeing kids excited for tutoring.

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One student in particular is not the biggest fan of reading but her tutor decided that one way to get her more interested in reading was to have her create her own story. Each week they spend time working on the story making sure she has proper grammar and that the story is making sense. This has allowed her to grow her own sense of creative thinking and help the tutor discover more about what she is interested in. Seeing all of the different ways to get these kids to learn without them necessarily feeling like they are in standard classroom  has been a lot of fun.  Not only are these kids enjoying the one on one contact but the tutors are having a lot of fun getting to know the kids and learning what works and doesn’t work.

There are four months left in the school year and it will be interesting to see how much these students improve in this time and how that directly affect their grades and progress in school.

(Nicole Morgenstern is an NTP site coordinator, working with FLOC’s tutoring programs on Tuesdays and Thursdays and on Wednesday afternoons at Savoy Elementary.)

Outdoor Education Center

Empowerment and Health

Students today are faced with many decisions in their life. FLOC aims to help students understand that they constantly have many choices, even when it comes to their health and the health of their community. Part of the youth empowerment programming adopted by FLOC’s West Virginia Leaders in Action program includes the self-awareness and knowledge that they do have power to make good decisions and affect change.

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Here in WV, the statistics for childhood obesity rates reached close to 18.5% in 2011 placing the state high on the list at number 13 compared with the 50 other states. For the same year, DC youth obesity rates were just above 21% putting the district at 4th highest among other states.   Poor health and nutrition and lack of activity can also be major determining factors in a person’s ability to focus, to sleep well, and have energy and motivation. The link between education and health is well documented, but it would not be surprising that students’ health could affect their education as well.

For the second half of the fall semester, our Leaders in Action programs have been immersed in the Health and Nutrition unit. Students looked at the consequences of added sugars with the enhanced visuals of actually measuring out the numbers of teaspoons of sugar in a variety of familiar foods and products. They also discussed standard dental hygiene practices and strategies for caring for our protective tooth enamel such as avoiding sugary acidic beverages. Everyone was surprised to learn that most fruit juices and sports drinks are comparable to sodas when it comes to acidity and sugar content.

The focus this month is on the importance of movement and activity in our lives.  Learning or developing unhealthy habits as a child can set a person up for a lifetime of difficulties and disease.  Play and movement can be fun, and implementing healthy habits can increase a child’s energy and confidence.  So last week, in honor of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, we visited a local county park’s indoor playground and got active for one hour.  After learning how to measure their heart rates and get them up to beneficial levels, with the help of a moon bounce and some fun games like clothes pin tag, all those present got the recommended 60 minutes of activity in for that day.

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The health of a population is affected not just by education and awareness, but also by economic inequalities, and access to healthy food and safe, active, appropriate spaces to play, among other things.  We don’t want our young people to be limited in life by preventable health issues.  Their potential is at stake, so let’s move towards a more healthy and just society together.

(Josh Evans is the Program Assistant for FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center in WV)