Commentary: The Carolina Youth Development Center supports vulnerable children in the Lowcountry | Comment

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What difference can I make in the world around me? How long does it take to see results from changes made to improve my community? What can I do to ensure that these changes and their impacts are lasting?

These are the kinds of questions we posed this summer to young people attending the Freedom School in North Charleston, hosted by the Carolina Youth Development Center in partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund.

It is common for children to return to school after a busy summer after losing some of what they have learned over the past year. Freedom School strives to prevent this.

Freedom School is a six-week summer program for residents of the Carolina Youth Development Center and other local children that boosts students’ motivation to read, generates more positive attitudes toward learning, and connects children’s needs and families to the resources of their communities.

Through innovative teaching practices, creative projects, and visits from influential guests, our Freedom School students have spent the summer discovering how to champion the causes they believe in and how they can positively impact their communities.

This year, the students focused specifically on the environment. The students applied their new knowledge to a variety of projects throughout the summer, including writing and performing a rap about climate change.

Through an easy-to-learn curriculum for young children who are allowed to be active in their education, students were able to leave Freedom School newly empowered and inspired to take an active role in their communities.

During the fifth week of Freedom School, U.S. Representative Nancy Mace visited the Carolina Youth Development Center to read to the students. Acknowledging this was an opportunity to engage her community and learn something new, a student asked Rep. Mace what she thought about climate change and how it was helping to mitigate the damage ‘He talks.

This is the kind of involvement we want to teach our children. Our goal is to educate and inspire children with consistent and varied learning opportunities and experiences, giving them the confidence to act proactively while breaking the harmful cycles that lead to lack of education, homelessness, abuse and neglect. The end of these cycles means the beginning of healthier and more prosperous families.

When children and families need treatment, support and tools to help them stay strong, they can turn to the Carolina Youth Development Center. Our range of programs and services aim to create a safe space where vulnerable children and youth in the Lowcountry can grow and learn, and where families can develop positive discipline practices, remain resilient in difficult times, reduce conflict and improve parenting skills. We hold ourselves to the highest standards and aim to be a leader in all facets of state and national child protection practices.

Many of our services are free and available to families in our community who need them most. Often the greatest threat to health and well-being is lack of access to care; knowing that these resources and supports are available can and often does make all the difference. Helpers and teachers are out there – you just have to look for them. Many are here at the Carolina Youth Development Center, ready to support healthy, thriving families in the Lowcountry and throughout South Carolina. To learn more, visit cydc.org.

beverly hardin is CEO of the Carolina Youth Development Center.

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