The Road to College Starts Here: Camp Inspires Homeless Kids

Jun. 24, 2010

Child with a  snakeChild  with Van  Der Graf generator
One camper has a slithery encounter with a corn snake, and another gets hands-on experience with a Van de Graaff generator as part of a Kids University science day.

Kids   University graduation
Standing, from left: UT Dallas President David Daniel, Dean George Fair and State Sen. Royce West shake graduates' hands at the conclusion of Kids University day camp.

Lesson at Kids University

Campers also explore pre-algebra concepts through manipulative shapes, in a learning module designed by camp founder and Dean George Fair.

Girl    in graduation robe

State Sen. Royce West and a young camper address Kids University graduates, families and supporters.

 

It was a megawatt event.

The smiles on the faces of the children, parents, UT Dallas representatives and Rainbow Days staff were as bright as the multicolored graduation regalia worn by the graduates of Kids University on June 10.

The University hosted the four-day camp to give about 125 children from local homeless shelters the chance to experience a college environment. Activities were designed to ignite curiosity in math and science, inspire confidence and encourage drug-free living.

“From my experience working with homeless children, I knew lots of kids in shelters didn’t even know what college was,” said Dean George Fair, who proposed the idea for the camp almost two decades ago. “Bringing them to UT Dallas, even for a short time, gives them a taste of college and shows them what is possible for their futures.”

The camp, now in its 15th year, culminates in a graduation ceremony.

This year, State Sen. Royce West (District 23) addressed the young graduates with a message about confidence and believing in dreams.

“I’m proud of you and know that each and every one of you is going to be successful,” he said.

Each graduate crossed the stage to cheers and applause, pausing to shake hands with Senator West, UT Dallas President David Daniel and Dr. Fair, dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies.

In addition to the UT Dallas help, the camp runs on the volunteer efforts of Rainbow Days, a nonprofit group whose mission is to provide children living in high-risk situations with the skills and support they need to overcome adversity and stay drug free.

The second camp, which runs June 21-24, ends with its own graduation ceremony featuring commencement comments by Omar Jahwar, founder and CEO of Vision Regeneration.  Vision Regeneration is a nationally recognized “Violence Free Zone” program.


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Media Contact: Karah Hosek, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5890, karah.hosek@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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