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Transforming Participation into Engagement

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National Day of Summer Learning 2018

This year, National Summer Learning Week begins on July 8. The purpose of this national movement is to elevate awareness of learning and healthy habits among the nation’s youth. Locally, Kalamazoo Youth Development Network (KYD Network) will take part with the National Day of Summer Learning.

On July 11, between 400 and 500 children from Kalamazoo County will gather at Bronson Park from 12-5 p.m. to participate in educational activities, listen to speakers, and attend performances.

Meg Blinkiewicz, Executive Director of KYD Network, indicates that the National Day of Summer Learning’s importance lies in its ability to assist students with information retention during the summer months.

“We know from research that two years of ‘summer slide’ in the elementary grades accounts for 75 percent of disparities in high school,” she said. “As a result, teachers spend the fall getting back to where they left off instead of starting the new year’s lessons.”

Blinkiewicz recognizes that we need to do more as a community to ensure that our kids are ready for life beyond high school. In order to meet this need, she has turned to the teachings of Karen Pittman, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of The Forum for Youth Investment.

“We need to make a paradigm shift in how we see education that moves away from completion and towards readiness,” Blinkiewicz explained. “In other words, our educational goals must focus on engagement rather than just participation. If we want to meet this goal, we need to be better at individualizing support for students.”

As a native of Kalamazoo, Blinkiewicz takes personal pride in where she grew up.

“I am a Kalamazoo Central High School graduate and attended the University of Texas for my undergraduate degree,” she said. “We came back to Kalamazoo to raise our kids and take care of my mom. My children grew up in the same house that I did and graduated from Loy Norrix High School.”

With community ties like this, it’s no surprise that Blinkiewicz is fully invested in the futures of Kalamazoo Public Schools’ students.

“I love my job because we have a lot of equity work to do in Kalamazoo; I want all youth to be college ready,” said Blinkiewicz. “We want to do our part to make sure kids can access The Kalamazoo Promise.”

Advocating for improved education and organizing events like the National Day of Summer Learning are serious commitments. Luckily, Blinkiewicz is one of seven dedicated individuals who are committed to ensuring all Kalamazoo County youth are college, career, and community ready by 21.

Interested in sending your child to the National Day of Summer Learning? Participation is free! Potential sponsors of the event can visit KYD Network’s website or email Blinkiewicz at meg@kydnet.org. Sponsorships cost $50.

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