Today, the B-SAFE Program launches into our seventeenth summer!
Staff in purple T-shirts are welcoming hundreds of smiling, excited, and slightly nervous young people to our 11 programs in six neighborhoods across Boston and Chelsea (South End, Lower Roxbury, Uphams Corner, Codman Square, Mattapan, and Chelsea).
A recent New York Times op-ed by KJ Dell'Antonia described the importance of high-quality, affordable summer programs that include an academic component. In the absence of summer opportunities such this--programs like B-SAFE--the "lack of affordable child care and the achievement gap collide for lower income families." Young people in the neighborhoods B-SAFE serves can lose, on average, more than two months of reading skills over the summer and studies indicate that they never make this up. Dell'Antonia notes that this gap keeps getting wider, and by the end of 5th grade, young people from lower-income areas are nearly three years behind their higher income peers in academic skills.
But it does not have to be this way! B-SAFE offers solutions. Research shows that the summer slide accounts for about half of this disparity in academic achievement, which means that young people in B-SAFE will stay on track for their reading and writing skills. Plus they find friends who are fun and a community of adults who care about and love them. Meanwhile, our team of teen organizers are meeting with public officials to create longer term solutions for the economic and educational issues in our cities.
This summer, B-SAFE's theme is "Create the Future," taken from a quote of Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel in space. Together, we will be building communities where EVERYONE feels safe, feels big, and feels connected. Together, we will be fostering a life-long love of learning that is evaluated not by standardized tests but rather by the quality of final projects and the enthusiastic engagement of students. Together, we will be creating experiences that enact a future with more love, more justice, more health, and (perhaps most importantly) more smiles!
We are so excited that you are part of this solution and the B-SAFE community!
Now, BLAST OFF to a future of fun!
By Liz Steinhauser, Director of Youth Programs
Liz Steinhauser joined St. Stephen's staff as the Director of Youth Programs in August 2003, bringing over 30 years of professional training and experience as a youth worker and community organizer to the position. Liberation theology developed her commitment to social justice; Girl Scouts built her arts and crafts skills and her repertoire of goofy songs. She is a graduate of Colgate University and Harvard Divinity School and lives in Roslindale with her modern family, including her eleven-year-old son, Heschel, who is studying to be an actor.