Equity is Opportunity Plus Access (June 2017)
June is Children’s Awareness Month
As school-age kids wind down their academic year and prepare for summer, we are reminded that some of the best learning can happen outside the classroom. Recreational time, team sports, and programs that stimulate a child’s imagination through art, music or other creative endeavors can inspire kids and prepare them for success in and outside of the classroom and beyond. While Northern Virginia is fortunate to have many summer programs available for youth, Cornerstones is working with its partners to ensure that there are not economic, transportation or other barriers preventing children in our community from taking advantage of these summer programs and camps.
This is just one of the questions being addressed as part of a new initiative in Reston known as “Opportunity Neighborhood: Reston” or RestON, that brings stakeholders together to champion community priorities that improve the lives of children, youth and families.
As Supervisor Hudgins explained at the launch of RestON: “Equity is opportunity plus access.” In a planned community like Reston, we are fortunate to have bountiful opportunities with terrific schools, beautiful public spaces, and countless activities and amenities to enjoy. It isn’t the lack of opportunities that we struggle with – it’s ensuring all residents have access to them. RestON’s overarching goal is to ensure that all children have access to the resources they need to succeed.
The sheer number of partners on the RestON organizing team demonstrates our community’s commitment to achieving this goal. At the table are parents, youth, businesses, nonprofits, residents, health care providers, faith community leaders, civic groups and government partners, all who share this goal.
You will begin to see the manifestations of the RestON initiative starting this summer. The RestON team is working to connect interested youth-who may not otherwise have access-to a wide variety of programs, camps and academic / continuous learning initiatives. Cornerstones’ program coordinators and RestON partners like Reston Community Center, Reston Association and the YMCA-Reston will be working to creatively and intentionally reach kids who may have barriers to finding and enrolling in these summer programs.
Additionally, community program advocates will be hosting outreach events in target “opportunity” communities, hosting events and game nights to engage families, help them find out about resources, and meet their community advocates.
If you are interested in getting involved in RestON, consider joining a Resident Engagement Team. These neighborhood-based teams guide the initiative by providing local perspective on issues that affect children. Membership is still open! Contact Amanda.Caughran@cornerstonesva.org for more information.
Additionally, you can help some of our children in need by volunteering or donating to the annual “Back to School Bash” resource fair. Attendees at the fair can access a range of services, including sign-ups for afterschool sports, bus passes, and other information. Families across the cultural and socio-economic spectrum will attend. Volunteers and donated school supplies are always welcome!
Kerrie Wilson, CEO