Easter at Sullivan Apartments
Children at Springfield Housing Authority’s Sullivan Apartments busied themselves on a recent afternoon making baskets out of Popsicle sticks and tie-dying boiled eggs, in a project that combined hands-on work, creativity and a whole lot of fun.
The 25 children in the after-school program at the SHA family development got the special treat courtesy of the YMCA of Greater Springfield and Talk/Read/Succeed!, the family-based literacy program that operates at three housing developments and their public elementary schools.
For children at Sullivan, the afternoon meant breaking from the usual homework and literacy sessions to gluing together 40 popsicle sticks, carefully holding things together while adding gooey-edged pieces, waiting for the glue to dry and then stuffing them with colorful plastic Easter grass before plopping in painted eggs. It was a joyous blend of concentrated effort
and cacophonous fun.
“I love doing stuff like this,” declared eight-year-old Monya Fogg, who attends the after-school program daily.
“It’s just fun. You get to make something and take it home, you can do it with your friends and be together,” she added.
The end result was two dozen happy children with colorful treats in tow, all made with their own skills.
T/R/S! Outreach Coordinator Zenaida Burgos worked with Kendra Silva, site director of the YMCA after-school program at Sullivan. The day began with a pasta-and-meatballs dinner, followed up by the holiday-themed activity.
“We thought, Easter’s coming, why not do something fun,” said Burgos, who oversees Sullivan’s participation in the T/R/S! program.
“This gives them a chance to work together and make something that is pretty and fun to do. We’re always looking for learning opportunities that are fun for the children,” Burgos said.
Launched in 2010, T/R/S! is a collaboration that includes the SHA, the Springfield School Department and its teachers’ union, Springfield Education Association, the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation and its Reading Success by 4th Grade Program, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, the Behavioral Health Network, among others.
T/R/S! unites three SHA family developments with three public elementary schools – Sullivan and the Boland school, Robinson Gardens Apartments and Dorman, and Duggan Apartments with the Indian Orchard school. Programs are provided at all locations, with an eye toward improving literacy among children, as well as independence
The after-school and summer programs run by the YMCA draw some two dozen children on a daily basis. Silva said the focus is high-test literacy activities, whether that be reading a book from the colorful library area, or getting caught up on homework, or playing games whose underlying goal is better language, mathematics and inquiry-based skills.
“We’re always thinking about things that can help them learn, and do better in school,” Silva noted. “We’re like a family here.”
The Easter-themed afternoon had its learning components, including math and language practice as children built baskets and dyed eggs. But it also included another important thing.
“This is a fun day,” Silva explained. “It’s a celebration and a time to do something together for entertainment and friendship building.”
Sister and brother Oneyshka and Angel Ruiz, aged 7 and 6, were in full agreement.
“This is fun,” said Oneyshka. “We get to make Easter baskets and play together.”
“Yeah,” chimed in her little brother. “Fun.”
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