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Senior Corps-RSVP Members and Parents Make School Cool!

2017 May 25
by HandsOn Suburban Chicago

Middle School Students Enjoy Enrichment Activities at CHiL Fest

What keeps students on track to graduate from high school? Studies have shown a sense of belonging at school is vital to bolstering academic engagement. Positive social relations with community members have likewise been proven to inhibit risky behavior, ensuring kids in grades 6-8 stay on course to succeed at the secondary level.

To promote school connectedness among the students of Cooper, Holmes, and London Middle Schools (CCSD 21), HandsOn Suburban Chicago (HOSC) teamed up with the Chicago Fire and Journeys │ The Road Homea nonprofit that serves the homeless—to organize an afternoon of enrichment and service learning. The event, CHiLFest, took place at London in Wheeling on Friday, May 5.

CHiLFest’s other fun activities included a tai chi lesson taught by former London teacher Gary Puhy and a slime workshop run by HOSC’s schools project director Jess Park. Moved by its meditative component, one 6th grader who was previously unfamiliar with the martial art let everyone know he needed more of it in his life. The slime-making station elicited similar feedback from many of the students. They enjoyed discovering for themselves the properties of magnets as well as color science. The kids furthermore wanted to know when CHiL Fest was going to happen again.

7 Senior Corps-RSVP members and two parents kindly gave their time to facilitate the event, which had over 100 registrants. All the Senior Corps-RSVP members who participated also volunteer as tutors at various schools. Most of them serve at CCSD 21’s middle schools through CHiL—HOSC’s afterschool program. They served lunch and chaperoned the children as they rotated through each station. The students were thrilled to see familiar faces and to have the opportunity to bond with community members without homework deadlines looming.

The majority of the families CCSD 21 serves are classified as low-income. They rely on school and community resources to offer their children access to enrichment activities, which are vital to cultivating school connectedness as well as to their overall development. Research has proven that when children, especially those at risk, feel they are part of a caring community at school, they are more likely to attend school regularly, earn higher grades, and abstain from drug use and other destructive behaviors. Positive social relations with caring adults likewise help students feel connected to their school milieu. To make a difference, consider volunteering at a school in the fall.

If you are unable to commit to giving your time, you can help by making a small gift of $25 to cover the event’s cost for one student. CHiLFest was made possible thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous family foundation. Enrichment events, such as CHiL Fest, were eliminated from HOSC’s offerings after its funding for School Programs was slashed in half. Contributions from people like you would enable HOSC to offer CHiL Fest and similar programming next school year. A donation of any amount would be welcome.


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