In New Orleans’ historic Tremé neighborhood, the Phyllis Wheatley Community School building was decimated during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However, the spirit of the school and surrounding community has proven resilient. The new and improved Phyllis Wheatley Community School opened its doors to students in 2013 with a two-fold mission: first, to provide individualized support for each student’s academic and social and emotional learning; second, it strives to serve the surrounding low-income community, fostering the involvement of students’ families in school activities, as well as reaching out to their neighbors.
One way in which the Phyllis Wheatley Community School does this is by maintaining an Edible Schoolyard garden, which students can help to tend, and which provide fresh produce for the school cafeteria. Moreover, the school makes the fruits and vegetables available for students, their families, and community members monthly to take home.
Our newest project in New Orleans
The Phyllis Wheatley Community School is our newest affiliated project in New Orleans. Children Incorporated began our affiliation with the school at the end of the 2017 school year. As a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school, the number of children in attendance is rapidly growing, and is almost up to 900.
While visiting the school last year, our Director of U.S. Programs, RenéeKube, met with our Volunteer Coordinator Max, who described the school as a “high-need school,” meaning many children in attendance are lacking basic needs such as adequate food and clothing. Max said that Children Incorporated is very helpful in that many students at his school come from low-income families in its surrounding neighborhoods. He told Renéethat our sponsorship program provides uniforms, books, shoes, and other essential items to kids.
At the beginning of the school year, each student received a backpack full of supplies as well. Max also participates in the Lollipop Book Club, a children’s book of the month club. In addition, he is planning to use sponsorship funds to help provide Thanksgiving meals to our sponsored children’s families in the fall.
More children in need
After visiting with Max, Renéemet with Amanda, the new President of Communities In Schools (CIS) of New Orleans, our affiliate and school dropout prevention organization. As they discussed the Children Incorporated sponsorship program, Amanda and Renéeboth agreed that there are plenty of children in New Orleans who could benefit greatly from having sponsors, and that they would really appreciate the personal involvement that comes with sponsorship.
Renéealso discussed the possibility of providing Hope In Action funding for schools in New Orleans. Past assistance to our affiliated projects there went to amazing programs such as the before and after school program Champ Camp. Renéeexpressed that future assistance could go towards addressing food insecurity by assisting with the implementation of more school gardens. Amanda agreed that was a good idea, because, as she explained to Renée, many of the schools in the city have made health and wellness as much of a priority as academics, because children respond so well to programs such as school gardens.