First Things

Something Youthful

Event celebrates summer learning

Even though school is out, a lot of learning can happen for youth over the summer months and the Kalamazoo Youth Development Network (KYD Network) is celebrating that with its annual Celebration of Summer Learning from 1–4 p.m. July 15.

The event, which will be presented in person and on Zoom, brings together youth and adults from the nearly 60 youth-serving community organizations to talk about why summer learning is fun, engaging and important. This is the sixth year KYD Network has held the celebration, which has traditionally been a day-long outdoor event with more than 500 participants. For the past two years, however, the event has been a hybrid of online and in-person activities. This year's theme is "Take Back My Summer!" and according to KYD Network Executive Director Meg Blinkiewicz, the theme was chosen because "it's important to see how young people are taking back their lives as we emerge from multiple pandemics, including Covid-19 and racial injustice and racism."

"We're coming out of multiple pandemics and folks need to be uplifted," Blinkiewicz says. "They want to see and hear directly from young people about how they are taking back their lives, taking back their summer and their community. We're really celebrating what young people have learned about themselves, others and the world around them."

The event will occur in person with youth participating at various summer program sites in Kalamazoo and Calhoun Counties. Viewers and participants can watch as 300 students engage in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities through kits donated by Advia Credit Union. In addition, the program will feature "roaming youth reporters" who will interview kids and adults at summer program sites about summer learning, and youth will be featured as speakers and performers at the event.

The Zoom link to view the event is tinyurl.com/CofSL-2021. For more information, visit KYD Network at kydnet.org.