GREAT LAKES, Ill. --
Marines stationed aboard Naval Station Great Lakes volunteered at Howard A. Yeager Elementary school in Great Lakes, Ill., Apr. 15, to support the local community in honor of Military Child Appreciation month.
The program for afterschool enrichment is run by the North Chicago Community Partners (NCCP), which assists kids with arts and crafts, homework and volunteers to spend time with the children outdoors promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Elizabeth Hailand, director of strategic relationships with NCCP, said that something as simple as having people come in to volunteer can make a big difference in the students’ lives.
“We bring resources into these schools to give them the tools they need to be successful,” Hailand said. “Anything from running a food pantry, providing hearing and vision screenings and just having volunteers come in and spend time with the kids makes a significant impact.”
Not only have these resources visibly improved the quality of life within the schools, but they’ve also shown growth in the academic performance of children who attend the after-school enrichment program.
According to Hailand, out of 300 vision tests performed through the NCCP program, 80 children were rescreened and 19 of them were eventually fitted with glasses.
Hailand noted that while they just gained access to test scores last year, academic testing scores and overall academic performance in the classrooms showed a noticeable increase in the students who attended the afterschool or lunch programs.
While some of the children enjoy hanging out with friends, others enjoy meeting the volunteers.
“I like when volunteers come in and we get to talk about where they’re from and stuff,” said one 4th grade student. “I like to hang out with my friends while I’m here too.”
“I like coming here because we get to sometimes do art, plant things and we get free time or time to finish our homework,” said a 5th grader. “Plus I get extra credit for coming.”
At the end of the day, the impact that volunteers make on the kids will shape them into better students as volunteers continue to do an outstanding job throughout district 187 schools, Hailand said.
NCCP was founded in 2008 following a needs assessment by the Gorter family a founding financial contributor. District 187 which includes Great Lakes and North Chicago, was selected to receive the program aimed at improving the quality of life within the low-income area.
For more information on how to sign up to volunteer with the NCCP and make a difference in the Great Lakes area visit: http://www.northchicagocommunitypartners.org/