For the first time since 2019, the IRC in Silver Spring youth program hosted its annual Summer Youth Academy in-person. The program was designed and implemented with the support of IRC staff, interns, and volunteers. 

The goal of the IRC youth program is to empower newly arrived school-aged children to obtain the knowledge, skills and education needed to integrate, be self-sufficient and achieve economic stability to assert control over their futures.

In preparing the Summer Youth Academy, the IRC youth team met with families and students to understand their interests and needs for the program. They learned that students were eager to interact with their peers through an in-person curriculum. The youth program set out to provide students with an individualized learning experience that highlights their skills, areas of growth and broadens their horizons and abilities to reach their academic goals.

The youth team enrolled 84 students in the Summer Youth Academy, 48 middle schoolers and 36 high schoolers. The program took place from the beginning of July through August in Riverdale, Maryland.  

Every day started with a warmup and ice breaker activity outside for students to set a positive and engaging tone for the day. Students would then transition to an English session where they were divided into three different groups based on their English proficiency. Before lunch, students would have a craft exercise, including painting, sewing or building to support their creativity, motor skills and self-expression. 

After lunch, students would have a math lesson which typically focused on numbers, algebra and geometry, followed by an extracurricular activity during which students participated in STEM activities, learned to play chess and had the opportunity to play outdoor games, such as water balloon games and relay races. Students would also have the opportunity to seek additional supportive study time if needed. All lessons incorporated group play among students and time for students to receive one-on-one help and instruction from staff and volunteers.   

We could not have made this happen without our partners - a special thanks to Eastpines Community Center for offering their space,  Foodhini, a refugee-owned restaurant, for providing free boxed lunches, mEducation Alliance for assisting with STEM programming, and L.A.C.E.S for their soccer balls, goals and other game tools.