WARSAW – United Way is partnering with Warsaw and Wawasee Schools to launch START UNITED, a summer experience for 1,000 children who need a boost before the first day of school. “This partnership will provide an on-ramp for students who need to regain any momentum that has been lost since March,” said Darren Bickel, President of United Way of Kosciusko County. “Routine is so important for kids as they grow. It gives them the security they need to explore and take risks.” United Way is ready to take the first step in helping our kids reset their routines and we need the community’s help.
The program begins July 20.
START UNITED will be much more than summer school.
- First, class sizes will be smaller to provide the best environment. This creates an opportunity forteachers to connect with students. Rebuilding relationships is a priority.
- Second, social-emotional learning will be woven
into every day. Our youth have heard and seen a
lot over the past few months. Gina Courtois,
Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator (SEL) at
Warsaw Community Schools, curated a book list
and explained, “Our vision with SEL is that it is
integrated into the work that we are doing,
conversations we are having, and the relationships
that we are building. Our approach is purposeful
and intentional. Each day students come to
school, they have an opportunity to cultivate and
build resilience through conversations and
interactions with others. These vital relationships
give them the chance to find ways to understand
what they have been going through and to build
healthy responses to difficult situations.” Students
will be in a place where they can discover how to reignite their passion for learning.
- Finally, the community will be involved in as many ways as possible. Many community members have reached out asking what they can do. START UNITED will provide a real chance for the community to show how much they care for our children.United Way of Kosciusko CountyPO Box 923 Warsaw, Indiana 46581 • (574) 269-2592 www.unitedwaykosciusko.org
A free 3-week summer experience for kids, Kindergarten – 6th grade in Warsaw & Wawasee schools
How the Community Can Help
- Read United – Volunteers will be matched with classrooms via Zoom calls to read stories once week for three weeks.
- Ready-to-Go Bags – Community Members can pick up a drawstring bag and fill it with school supplies for students.Sign Up at United Way’s websitewww.unitedwaykosciuko.org
The community can be a part of START UNITED through:
- Read United will match volunteers with a classroom where they will share stories via Zoom call.United Way will provide the books and prompt cards. Volunteers will read once a week for 15 minutes for three weeks. 100 volunteers are needed. Volunteers can sign up at United Way’s website, www.unitedwaykosciuko.org. Read United has been in schools since 2017.
- Ready-to-Go Bags: Volunteers can pick up a drawstring bag from United Way and fill it with school supplies. Each bag will have a school-approved list of supplies and will cost about $25 to fill. Children in START UNITED will receive the bags during the last week of the program to make sure they are ready to go to school. You can sign up to fill a bag at United Way’s website, www.unitedwaykosciuko.org.“One of the questions we get is, ‘Is it safe for the kids?’” said Dr. David Hoffert, Superintendent of Warsaw Community Schools. “Our answer is that we are doing everything we can to make our schools the healthiest place possible.” Schools have always prioritized the safety of our children while providing educational opportunities. Historically, schools have been a safe haven in our community; educators are called upon to meet the needs of children’s physical, emotional, and educational wellbeing. Warsaw Community Schools is grateful that this community recognizes the value of facing these issues together. With support from parents and partners, Warsaw Community Schools has again adapted and responded. Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, office staff, educators, nurses, and administrators are all working hard to make sure WCS in partnership with START UNITED prepares students for a successful school year.START UNITED is the largest effort to-date from United Way’s new KIDS UNITED strategy. Over the last year, United Way has explored ways to strengthen our community. Discussions kept returning to children and the need to help Kosciusko County do more for its youngest citizens. “So many children face huge challenges every day, challenges that can be overwhelming,” said Ted Westerhof, Chair of the United Way of Kosciusko County’s Board of Directors. “KIDS UNITED is our way of marshalling United Way’s resources to do even more for kids.” START UNITED is funded in part by a grant from Lilly Endowment as a part of the Economic Relief initiative. United Way is committing more than $100,000 to START UNITED. KIDS UNITED will continue to unveil new initiatives over the next year.
“The important thing is to do the right things for our children,” said Dr. Tom Edington, Superintendent of Wawasee Schools. “It needs to be done carefully and intentionally, but kids need the community to be there for them.” START UNITED will get help to the kids who need it most. The children will have a chance to get a head start before school begins and be just a little more prepared. It will make the first day of school a little easier.