D.C. Reads’ Kids on Campus introduces elementary schoolers to college life
Annual event showcases AU to students in the D.C Reads program
The annual D.C. Reads’ Kids on Campus Day event brought more than 200 elementary schoolers from around the District to AU on April 13.
The theme of this year’s event was “My Story: A Celebration of Difference,” in which the children were introduced to a college campus while also celebrating their diversity.
The fair was held for the elementary students in Mary Graydon Center, filled with music and various activities, including a photo booth and Clawed Z. Eagle. Other booths focused on different aspects of diversity, such as “Family, Food and Geography,” “What Superhero Are You?” which asked students to identify their different strengths, and “I Can Change the World,” which highlighted different leaders and activists to inspire students to make positive changes in the world.
Katie Ruff, a current sophomore and a D.C. Reads team leader, said that one of her favorite parts of the event was watching the students interact outside of the classroom.
“When you’re in the tutoring setting, you don’t always get to see the kids act as they normally would,” Ruff said as young students milled about from booth to booth, chattering with their friends and posing for pictures with Clawed.
AU’s D.C. Reads program is part of the University’s Center for Community Engagement and Service, and connects AU students with D.C. elementary students for after-school tutoring, specifically focusing on elementary school literacy. The program is in its 18th year at AU, according to D.C. Reads director Robin Adams.
“The program is really a college awareness program, so by bringing students to a college campus, it helps them demystify college,” Adams said. “Many of these students are first-generation, so they may not be very familiar with college at all. By showing them what it’s like, it can be encouraging for them to pursue college in the future.”
AU students can choose to tutor at one of the eight different sites that have partnered with the D.C. Reads program, including elementary schools and after-school programs, Ruff said. Students who qualify for Federal Work Study are paid, while others can still volunteer their time for free.
Adams emphasized that the University fully supports the program, as it encourages AU students to help the community. Many students that are tutored in the program are from low-income schools or neighborhoods, so D.C. Reads offers them some extra support outside of the classroom.
“Justice is breaking down structural inequities, which is what these students do each week,” Adams said about the D.C. Reads tutors.