DEER CREEK, Miss. — In a world of new challenges born of the COVID-19 health crisis, the Delta Health Alliance (DHA) found ways to serve the young people of the Deer Creek Promise Community this summer.
The success of three recently concluded DHA summer camps provided not only a chance for kids to continue their education, but provided the organization with an important road map to follow into the fall. Those camps – the Head Start Promise School, the Literacy Fellows summer session and a new Coding Camp for budding computer information aficionados – achieved their goals amid the global disruption of a pandemic.
“We were able to construct and follow a well-crafted plan that gave our young people an opportunity to learn in a safe, health-minded environment,” said Karen Matthews, president and CEO of the DHA. “This was a group effort comprised of our dedicated staff, trusting parents and eager students who all understood and met the challenges we faced.”
Temperature checks, sanitizing stations, face masks, social distancing and other CDC recommendations were implemented and strictly followed to ensure the safety of students and instructors as the camps opened and operated to provide the kids with an opportunity to prepare for kindergarten and the upcoming school year.
“I was impressed with the ways that the staff worked to make sure the kids were safe,” said Linda McClinton, parent of a five-year-old Promise School student. “To prepare him for kindergarten while being so mindful of his health and safety made me feel really good as a parent.”
The same held true for the Literacy Fellows camp, the summer offshoot of the Literacy Fellows program that provides high quality, research-based reading instruction and intervention to struggling students; and the Coding Camp, which taught students the basics of coding and the concepts behind it such as algorithms and flow charts required to code computers.
“I think this camp will really help me in the future if I decide to have a career in computer science,” said a masked Nia Kendrick, a rising junior at Leland High School. “I didn’t even know what an algorithm was before this camp. It made computer science a new interest for me. Everything is a learning opportunity.”
As the fall school year begins, DHA knows it must be more creative as an organization to meet the needs of the communities it serves in the face of COVID-19. Just as DHA was initially resigned to not being able to hold summer camps, it will now look for ways to continue serving students as the regular school year unfolds through its mentoring and tutoring programs.
“With the knowledge we gained this summer, we are committed to continuing our efforts to provide the programs and services that are so important to our communities,” said Matthews.