I am Emma Friedman, I am in 10th grade, and I have had the privilege of attending summer camp every year since I can remember. Some of my best memories are from camp.

Unfortunately, many kids in our community don’t have the resources for these activities. Their parents work one or more jobs all summer and can’t afford summer camps or time for vacation with their children. Consequently, the children stay home watching TV, caring for younger siblings, or getting into trouble with other kids. Also, it has been proven that lack of some structured activity in the summer only exacerbates the achievement gap.

As a community, it is our responsibility to give all our children the best chance they have to succeed. Please help our community children by advocating for more free or low-cost community programs, helping programs get started with space through churches and other organizations, ideas, and volunteers.

I recently learned about OKAY – Opportunities for Kids and Youth. OKAY is a group, mainly of women from various churches, that advocates for children who do not have resources for activities over school breaks. OKAY encourages more affordable programs, provides some funding, recruits volunteers for programs in community organizations, and gives families information about free or scholarship-funded programs. You can also be involved by joining the OKAY team, providing supplies or money, or volunteering.

What can you do to help our community children? It takes a village. For more information about OKAY, contact Connie Gates at conniegates@juno.com.