By Felecia Gaston
On behalf of the youth and families of Performing Stars/Phoenix Project Summer Initiative, I would like to thank the Marin County organizations and agencies that have offered approximately $50,000 in summer scholarships to 100 low-income children in Marin County.
The average weekly camp ranges from $100 to $500 per week. The families of low-income youth desire the best enriching experience for their kids. However, these dollar amounts are not in their financial budget, and being able to access these opportunities is a challenge.
Summer is a time of recreation and enrichment, a time to explore new capabilities, see new things and make new friends. Our children need to be able to take a break from the hot, concrete buildings of their community and spend time with other children of different cultures and backgrounds.
Attending summer camps – with fresh outside air, no video games, no cell phones – is an opportunity to disconnect and refresh their minds and lives.
Our summer enrichment camps allow these boys and girls to participate in experiences they ordinarily would never have been able to afford and enjoy: learning to sail on the ocean; hiking on magnificent trails; attending sports camps; playing the role of Othello or Hamlet; rowing on the bay; riding mountain bikes at the beach; discovering the woods at weeklong camps; performing in a rock band, and surfing lessons on our beautiful local beaches.
While Performing Stars has connected youth to summer enrichment for many years, this year we expanded these activities for the children, siblings and relatives of the families involved in Performing Stars/Phoenix Project Initiative, a partnership among Marin Housing Authority, Marin City Community Services District and the Marin County Probation Department.
Since 2004, Marin organizations have generously offered these enriching scholarships. The 10-week summer program include the arts provided by the Marin Theater Company, 142 Throckmorton Theater, Marin Shakespeare Company, Stapleton Ballet, California Film Institute, Blue Bear Music, and Non-Arts Camps – such as Marin Catholic High School Sports Camps (basketball, football, baseball and lacrosse), SF 49er Gatorade Football, Surfworks, Marin Rowing Association, American True Sailing/Sailing Education Adventures, YMCA Camp Jones Gulch, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Complimentary tickets to live performances have been provided by the Marin Jewish Community Center and the Mountain Play.
Local volunteers groups such as the Marin City Rod & Gun Club will provide fishing and camping experiences, field trips to Marin County Fire Department Throckmorton Station, and free live performances hosted by Circus Bella and Kaiser Permanente Educational Theater.
In addition, we are working with the Marin County Office of Education School to Career Internship Program where some of our teenagers will be interning at the police departments – Sausalito, Twin Cities and San Rafael.
Performing Stars has ample experience in establishing relationships with these partners and securing scholarships, and we recognize that the young people will require more than “just” scholarships.
In order to take advantage of these opportunities, we provide wraparound services in order for them to participate wholeheartedly. This means providing transportation, drivers, gas, coordination/supervision, insurance, nutritional breakfast and lunches.
I would like to thank Supervisor Kate Sears and the Marin City Community Development Corporation for donations for support services and donations are graciously still accepted.
The phrase “Only in Marin” is a true testament of the generous support from these organizations, which reflects that, every child, no matter social status or economic income should have the opportunity to experience the best Marin has to offer.
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Felecia Gaston is executive director Performing Stars of Marin/Phoenix Project.