This month current corps member Matthew Carpenter highlights the important work that his partner organization, Durham Children’s Initiative, is doing in our community.
I am beyond thankful to be part of the Durham Children’s Initiative family! Durham Children’s Initiative (or DCI) is a non-profit organization in Durham that partners with people from cradle through college to provide resources and cultivate a space to learn. DCI helps students become more involved in their community through multi-grade level interactions and centering activities on topics that range from science to history to being physically active. They also encourage the families of the students to become more involved in their own learning via a new academic coaching program. Additionally, DCI offers drive-thru essential resource distribution on Thursdays from 4-6pm at the office. During this time families can pick up food, diapers, and hygiene products. In this way DCI is helping to co-create a beautiful community!
I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be on the Program Implementation and Community Engagement (PICE) team at DCI. (Shoutout to my team: Rebecca Billings-Gordon for being an excellent supervisor and human being; former JSC corps member and current DCI staff member Dani Rangel; and my co-worker and housemate Tiffany Farrell. It is humbling and an absolute pleasure to serve with you all. Thank you!)
The PICE team has a lot of fun being able to co-create educational programs for children in grades K-7. One of the many programs that we run is called Myths and Legends (led by our very own Dani Rangel). This program delves into historical narratives and emphasizes that they are often told by those who are privileged. Another PICE team program is our STEAM Saturdays (co-led by Tiffany and Rebecca). STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. So far during STEAM we have focused on science by talking about states of matter and making oobleck (made by combining cornstarch and water). We also explored the complexity of blood using a model made from corn syrup, red hots, lima beans, and sprinkles.
Of course, COVID-19 has been a big change for how these programs would typically run. We have had to move programming from in-person to Zoom, but I am continually amazed at the flexibility demonstrated by the entire DCI staff. Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of DCI are the children who are co-creating this wonderful community with us! Despite the pandemic DCI continues to love and care for the children, youth, and their families in our community. What an honor it is to be able to serve with them!