Helping Put Homeless Students on Solid Footing

Helping Put Homeless Students on Solid Footing


(lighthearted music) – [Narrator] We think of
children when they’ve moved from place to place to place. Or when they’ve been in a situation that’s maybe somewhat dysfunctional or having traumatic events. And sometimes they don’t
want to offer up themselves. Because they feel, “If I do,
I’ll be more vulnerable.” When children come in to Project Liftoff, we see a change. I came to Lee County in March of 2017. The budget year was ending in June and we had money that we had to spend. And I brought the social workers together. One of the social workers mentioned, “Well, it would be really good “if we could have a summer program.” And we thought, “Well, what’s our most
vulnerable population?” In the discussion we said, “Well, we really need to provide something for our homeless children.” – She was thorough, and listened. I think that’s probably
one of her best attributes. Dr. Waller will listen
and take everything in. And then try to make it where
everybody wins in a situation. – We started out like, with 12 children. And we had to go to the
hotels to pick them up. Wherever they were, we
went and found them. And it just has grown from there. (lighthearted music) A day in Project Liftoff,
we provide them breakfast, we provide them transportation, we provide lunch for them. So we start out with that. Even though they’re middle school, their academic levels
range across the board. We try to help them where they are. We try to find books that
are related to children who may be different, who may have something
that makes them stand out from the others. And we do that so that
our children will know, “I may not have a stable home right now, “but I still am a very good person “and I have a lot to bring.” So we try to relate the book study to their life experiences. They will have PE activities. We will do college tours. We have speakers come in. Students will come back who
have experienced homelessness and let them know their success stories. We will also have
business people coming in and talk to them about, you know, “You can start your own business “or this is what I did.” So to let them see that aspect as well. And then at the end, we have a
parents celebration for them. So the parents come in
and they’re so excited ’cause these are typically children that don’t get to perform. Because they come in, don’t
have a lot of self-confidence. – Project Liftoff teaches
them and has taught them those soft skills of being
able to hold a conversation with someone. Holding eye contact, how to come and shake someone’s hand, how to go to someone and
advocate that you need something. – We create the development
of relationships with the families and we get them involved. And even after Project Liftoff
during the school year, we still stay in touch with the
students and their families. They feel very comfortable
and they trust us. – It’s just an amazing opportunity for some students that,
otherwise might be overlooked and not thought about again until something really major could happen. And what I see, is those
kids with that sense of, “I can do this. “I’m not gonna be a failure. “I can graduate from high school. “But not only that, I can
do anything I put my mind to “because I’ve learned how to
do a little bit at a time, “stay on the right path, “and as long as I have somebody “that is a caring, loving adult, “watching and helping me when I ask for “or when they see me stumble, “I can do whatever I put my mind to.” (audience cheering) (lighthearted music)

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