Project RISE works to keep kids warm

Written by: Katelyn Freil

It may seem warm out now, but many people are already getting out their scarves, heavy coats and warm blankets. Young students who are not fortunate enough to have warm blankets, are getting help from students and an organization called Project RISE.

Project RISE, or Realizing Individual Strength through Education, is a collaborative effort between the Akron Public School, local shelters and the community to provide additional educational services to homeless youth in the Akron area.

“We make sure the kids who are living in shelters or doubled up in the community are getting to school, provided transportation if necessary, provided tutoring in the shelters, and provided other educational opportunities for both the parents and the children,” said Rachel Breece, a child and family life specialist that has been with Project RISE since 2009.

According to Breece, during the 2011-2012 school year, Project RISE served 997 students that were homeless and in need of help.

“That number probably does not reflect the actual amount of children experiencing homelessness,” she said. “There are many that go unreported, due to embarrassment and fear.”

On Sept. 26, students from The University of Akron’s Association for Educating Young Children (UAEYC) assisted Project RISE by putting together a blanket-making project for these young students. Breece said that the students made 40 blankets.

The blankets will be available to homeless students through the Project RISE Love and Learn Doll Project. The Doll Project provides dolls that have been handmade in workshops by volunteers to preschool-age children in shelters. Each doll comes with a tote bag, baby doll quilt, storybook and educational activity book. The idea is that children will learn skills needed for school and positive child-parent interactions.

If students wish to get involved in the Doll Project, they can attend the workshops on the second Monday of every month through May 2013. The workshops are held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Trinity United Church of Christ. Students can also look for other events, like the UAEYC blanket-makingworkshop.

Breece said that if students are looking for other ways to get involved, Project RISE is usually looking for volunteers to assist in their after-school tutoring program. The Student Social Work League is also collecting new shoes for Project RISE. They will be collecting shoes until Nov. 30 in the social work office, located in Polsky Room 411.

According to Breece, her work with Project RISE has positively benefited her life.

“Working with Project RISE has been a great blessing in my life,” Breece said. “I sincerely enjoy working on projects like these and meeting other community members passionate about helping people.”