Birmingham, Alabama (June 27, 2022) – Summertime is here, and extracurricular activities are in full swing. One such activity that prepares students for their next school year while also being fun and engaging is the Dreamcatchers Summer Program in Blount County.
The program is provided with space and learning materials by the Blount County Board of Education, and it is a recipient of a grant from United Way of Central Alabama. Mitchie Neel, Executive Director of Blount County Education Foundation, described the program’s local impact. She said, “The Dreamcatcher Summer Program at Susan Moore Elementary School, put on by the Blount County Education Foundation, is in its seventh year and has continually impacted the community in a positive way. Some of these kids have been with us for several years, and they give us everything they’ve got to improve their academic status. In addition to learning through the reading and math lessons, the kids love the enrichment activities like art and music.”
One of the ways that students are encouraged to keep up their attendance is through a bike raffle at the end of the summer. Since 2018, the Central Alabama Labor Foundation has provided the funds to buy the bikes and partners with UWCA’s Hands On to deliver them to the school. It has become a tradition that students excitedly line the hallways to watch the “bike parade.” Volunteers are touched by the enthusiasm as they overhear the students pick out which favorite they want to win as the bikes are rolled in.
The year before the Central Alabama Labor Federation and UWCA’s Hands On got involved, the program gave away one bike at the end of the summer. This year, the Labor Federation’s funding allowed for the purchase of eight, increasing students’ chances of winning and their eagerness. Marrianne Hayward, President of the Central Alabama Labor Federation, said, “It’s great to see the kids get excited about the bikes, but the biggest part of all of this is getting to be a part of their literacy education, which turns them into life-long learners and well-rounded adults.”
This year, the final attendance for the program was 92%, with 91 students achieving perfect attendance and receiving new backpacks and school supplies for the year.
United Way of Central Alabama serves Jefferson, Shelby, Walker, Blount, St. Clair, and Chilton counties by providing solutions for the most critical needs in the community. Through our partner agencies and community initiatives, we improve lives and community conditions by building and mobilizing resources. United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. For more information, visit www.uwca.org.