Enrollment struggles at San Francisco's Freedom school

(KGO)
June 29, 2012 6:19:01 PM PDT
Freedom School is a summer program for underserved kids in San Francisco. The program started in Mississippi back in 1964 geared primarily toward African American kids during the civil right movement, but this year, the San Francisco program is having a hard time signing kids up.

The school is a place to nourish the body and the soul. Students learn to not be afraid to express themselves. "Some kids are shy, so when they see other kids doing it, it allows them to come out of their shell," Lesha Lee says. The program is intended to build up their confidence while engaging them academically.

Rev. Renard Allen of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco's Western Addition neighborhood directs the program. For six weeks, African American students start by learning more about their culture and therefore, themselves. "I am a older sister and a little sister, and I'm a artist and a leader," says 7-year-old Shani Harris. Her mother Aisha Smith says that since Shani joined the program, her reading has improved. "Reading with her now, I noticed that she's a more confident reader," she says. Parents are encouraged to participate and kids like that. "They like to see mom involved with them and I'm very involved, very hands-on with their school," parent Jasmine Allen said.

Despite what it has to offer, the Freedom school has seen fewer kids this year. Rev. Allen blames it in part, on the economy. "People are moving. Foreclosures have affected us," he says. Many black families have moved to more affordable cities. Allen is still trying to encourage other kids and their families to join the program this summer and take advantage of what it has to offer.

"When I go to 6th grade, I might be good. I might know everything. I might get A's," student Mark Tsogbe says. It's that kind of confidence that Rev. Allen says will serve them in life.

Third Baptist Freedom School
http://www.thirdbaptist.com/
415-346-4426


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