They participated in a drum clinic led by a renowned musician, actor and photographer.

They learned soccer technique from a professional player.

They overcame a touch of stage fright and got a taste of theater acting before a live audience.

These were just three of the all-new enrichment activities enjoyed by students attending our summer break programs, held this June and July.

“Our focus for all of 2021-2022—which we emphasized during our summer program—is ‘heal through play,’ especially for those still struggling with all the ways the pandemic impacted everyone,” says Daisy Rojas, KidWorks’ Enrichment Coordinator.

Daisy says the enrichment activities instill a “growth mindset” in students, encouraging them to stretch beyond their comfort zones and be open to fresh experiences and activities.

“We do this by building confidence in students at all grade levels to try something new and be committed to their decision,” Daisy says.  

The results of the summer enrichment program exceeded everyone’s expectations.

“Students felt welcomed as they had fun and grew more and more comfortable with new experiences,” Daisy says. “There were so many positive emotions: happiness, excitement and joy.”

Following is a recap of the enrichment activities at KidWorks this summer:

Drum Clinic

The drum clinic was led by Joe DeRenzo, a well-known professional musician, actor and photographer. Joe brought his drum set-up to the Dan Donahue Center and provided a drum clinic for sixth graders from all three of our centers.

Joe inspired our students with his love of music. Says seventh grader Karina, “It was so cool to see a real drum player. I want to learn to play someday.”

“Joe’s drum clinic worked so well with our Love in Music program,” Daisy says. “His clinic further introduced our youth to music and the music industry.”

In addition to Joe, KidWorks extends a special thank you to Carole and Ty Moss, co-founders of Nile’s Project, a public awareness and educational organization dedicated to preventing unnecessary deaths from hospital-acquired infections. Ty, a Grammys voting member, is a longtime music industry colleague of Joe. Carole and Ty introduced Joe to KidWorks.

Soccer Event

The “Faith & Futbol” event was led by Bay Kurtz, a midfielder for California United Strikers FC, a professional soccer team based in Orange County.

The purpose of this enrichment program was to teach students that God is the center of all things, whether it’s sports, school or life in general.

“Faith and Futbol was a great opportunity for those students who typically don’t play on a sports team,” Daisy says. “Not all of our families can afford to enroll their child on a youth soccer team, so this provided a special insight into what a sports professional does day to day.”

Adds Daisy, “KidWorks students who actively play soccer were able to learn something new and work on skills they’ve been trying to perfect.

“I was so excited for Bay to bring the faith component and apply it to a sport that so many of our students participate in. Our youth had so much fun and it was amazing to see a professional player engage with them.”

KidWorks warmly thanks Bay and his team, as well as Anthony Cummings, KidWorks honorary staff member and UHSM’s Director of Youth Leadership & Fireside Ministry, for connecting us.

Theater Event

This activity was led Find Your Light Foundation, and their team members, Mia Geise and Lana Lee.

“Our students had so much fun singing and dancing!” Daisy says. “As they grew more confident with a theater experience, they overcame their hesitancy and gained confidence.

“The students all showed up each day to rehearse; they didn’t give up. The students split into different groups and each group learned a different act. At the end of the week, they performed an amazing show in front of their families and KidWorks staff.”

We’d never done a theater enrichment program before; this one ended up being such a big hit that we plan to do it again.

KidWorks is blessed that Find Your Light Foundation will continue to work with us and we look forward to continuing our partnership.

Mia Geise says, “I adored every single moment I had with the students and am so proud of everything they accomplished in such a short amount of time.”

Arts & Crafts/Wellness

Clarisa Vargas, our College & Career Readiness Coordinator, led wellness and creative activities that included journaling, painting, bracelet and lantern-making, along with the chance to enjoy music and movies.

Financial Literacy/College/Careers

Tim Strader, a KidWorks’ Board of Directors member and President of Starpointe Ventures, partnered with Clarisa to lead a workshop focused on college readiness, financial literacy and careers.

Tim made learning fun by using Skittles candy as part of an icebreaker game. He also led a college-themed board game and challenged students with a “fact” or “myth” quiz about college and careers.

“Tim really connected with the students and got them to participate,” Daisy says. “After his presentation, he invited them to play a game based on the lessons he taught, which the students all said was really fun.”

We thank Tim for all he does on behalf of KidWorks and for helping open young minds to financial literacy, plus college and career insight and opportunities.

Enrichment is a Year-Round Focus at KidWorks

Enrichment activities continue throughout the entire year at KidWorks. Along with our staff, these are largely led by partner organizations, volunteers and others, for which we are deeply grateful.

“Enrichment programs were a bigger part of our summer program than ever before, and this was possible because of all those who were so generous with their support,” Daisy says. “It was so rewarding to see the wonderful outcomes from our enrichment program.

Adds Daisy, “It was also gratifying to welcome new students and families this summer. I could see firsthand how each student gained something positive from the wide variety of activities–all while having fun as they developed their growth mindset.”

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer

Interested in learning how you can be part of KidWorks’ enrichment program?