The future belongs to those who prepare for it today. -Malcolm X
When Malcolm X said those words, he probably wasn’t thinking about four and five-year-olds, but this week a whole group of children entered the doors of a school for the very first time. They are heading to Kindergarten Countdown Camp (KCC) and they may not realize it, but they are preparing for a future of success.
United Way of Lake County’s Kindergarten Countdown Camp is a free summer program for incoming kindergarten students who have little to no preschool experience. These children are far less likely to start kindergarten with the basic skills needed to keep up with their peers. Unfortunately, those who start behind are likely to stay behind throughout their school years – unless they have some help. That is why United Way of Lake County developed KCC, providing it in partnership with local school districts and funding from Women United of Lake County (formerly Women’s Leadership Council).
KCC ensures that the first experience these children have with school is positive. Licensed teachers focus on teaching children the basic skills needed for kindergarten, such as knowing their letters, numbers and how to write their name. They also learn the routine of school, develop new skills, meet new friends and realize they can succeed in a school setting. The assessments at the end of camp consistently show that these children are now better prepared to enter kindergarten. Volunteers, school faculty and United Way staff ensure that every child gets the attention they need to improve their skills.
And it is G-R-O-W-I-N-G! The program started in 2015, serving 23 students in Waukegan. Four years later, 150 children in four communities (Beach Park, North Chicago, Round Lake and Waukegan) will participate. We are thrilled that the reputation for this impactful program has spread and principals are now asking United Way to offer KCC in their communities!
If the future belongs to those who prepare for it today, then these children are off to a great start!
This summer, we will share updates from KCCs throughout Lake County including volunteer and teacher testimonials, photos and videos from student activities and much more!