My work is that of sole staff person for HEAR US Inc., my brainchild of 10 years ago when I figured I could be the one to give voice and visibility to homeless children and youth. I've been on the road since then, having traded my nice little townhome for a house on wheels. I envisioned, somewhat crazily, the project of filming interviews of kids in homeless situations and posting them so others could see.
Amazingly, my dream wasn't far off. After 220,000+ miles of mostly backroads in 48 of the contiguous United States, I've met with success, as much as that can be measured. Lots of people like what I do, love it, even. I get tremendous feedback. Families and youth experiencing homelessness are thrilled with the opportunity I present for them to be seen and heard.
Last month, I was invited to hang out at the most awesome summer camp I've ever seen: Camp IBA (Imagine. Believe. Achieve.), an effort of the Wichita, KS School District 259's McKinney-Vento Homeless Students program.
This 9-week camp runs from 9-4, giving parents who are ousted from shelters during the day a safe place for their kids while the parents look for work, housing, etc. The camp is run by professionals and has "real" teachers. It's a bevy of activities that would make affluent families drool. The kids get to swim, dance, drum, learn math, play games, visit cool places, and hang around with topnotch professionals.
The campers accepted me, and even ignored me as I tromped around their school-camp with my cameras. And I got a pile of cool pics and video. More on that later...
The municipal pool is conveniently located right across from their school/camp. They had scheduled sessions where segments of the campers donned their swimming suits, grabbed their towels, hopped into their flip-flops and headed to the pool.
It's worth remembering that, given the opportunity, kids experiencing homelessness can thrive. At least for 7 hours a day. At camp. What fun.