Los Angeles House of Ruth Summer with Kids
Already traumatized from being homeless and often victims or witness to domestic abuse, these children were finally starting to feel that life was turning a corner as they found peace in our home-like environment shelter in a neighborhood setting. The moms at the shelter were working on getting back on track, improving their employment skills, attending classes to further their education and many working on even completing their own high school education. Much of this was put on pause with the COVID19 pandemic. Parents who do not have their own high school education suddenly forced to be the main educator with a distance learning protocol. So in the midst of this, we, at Los Angeles House of Ruth, wanted to help give the youth at our shelter a summer experience — to continue to help educate them so they do not fall through the cracks as well as to provide fun summer experiences so they can enjoy being a kid they way they should be!
The kids are only at our shelter a short time during their transition from homelessness to permanent housing and we want to make this time special for them as well as provide positive experience to help outweigh the negative they have had to endure in their life.
We know that summer is a precious time in a child’s life. A time you can’t get back. A time that often means exploring in the outdoors, summer camps, playing with friends. As COVID in Los Angeles (and elsewhere!) has tried to put a stop to kids being kids this summer — we are doing our best to make a difference. The kids are only at our shelter a short time during their transition from homelessness to permanent housing and we want to make this time special for them as well as provide positive experience to help outweigh the negative they have had to endure in their life. While we do provide counseling for trauma and abuse, having the opportunity to be a kid without worries is one of the best forms of therapy we can offer.
Usually during the summer, many of the children at our shelters attend a summer day camp. This year with not being able to attend due to COVID19, we decided to bring the camp to them. We created a day camp and brought staff from the summer camp to assist. In the morning we provide school enrichment and tutoring to help them stay on top of their learning goals and to fill the gaps from the last few months of distance learning. In the afternoon we offer activities such as crafts, building robots from cardboard, art classes, and creative play. We have purchased outdoor furniture for our outdoor space to do these activities. We have also seen the benefits of leaving the shelter to take socially distance safe fieldtrips for our kids including a beach trip, aquarium visit, and whale watching trip — the first time on a boat for most of the kids and even some of our staff. These trips provide a critical outlet for the kids.
We hope to be able to maximize the summer with these kids and create a summer that they can look back upon with fondness and not fear.
We have taken the necessary precautions for our activities including mask, hand sanitizer and hand washing and creating space as needed. As the children live in the same house, the risk of transmission from each other is the same as if they were all in the same family, but we still take all recommended precautions. On fieldtrips they wear masks and while in the van sit a good distance away. For example in the 12 passenger van we only have 5 children and the driver. Windows are open and the a/c is on to provide maximum air flow, keeping them at reduced risk of transmission.
These opportunities for children to enjoy a real summer and have new experiences allows the best form of stress reduction and confidence building, but it also gives their moms a much needed break so that they can continue their efforts towards self-sufficiency whether it is through on-line classes, job searches and counseling sessions.
We hope to be able to maximize the summer with these kids and create a summer that they can look back upon with fondness and not fear. And with the latest updates that schools are closed in LA for the foreseeable future, we know that this break is more important for their mental health than ever before. As the year progresses in light of COVID, we hope to be able to continue to provide tutoring and enrichment and periodic field trips as well to continue to create happy childhoods for the children at our shelters. We are glad that we can create memories for our youth at Los Angeles House of Ruth that will not be forgotten, and we are showing the children that they are cared for and worthy.
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