August 9, 2017

On today's show we look back at three of our earlier charity interviews - KidsPack, Beanstalk and America Scores LA.

Since we started our new show format, Adrian has visited many charities in his travels around the world.  

Whether it is a small non-profit or a worldwide organization, charities are an integral part of every community. Charities change the lives of people in need every day with even the smallest of donations making a large impact in a community. 

While governments play a role in providing support to people who need assistance, government funding sometimes lacks the precision needed to support all who need help. In addition, governments are typically slow to respond, and people who need help in the short term are often left without any assistance. Local charities and local chapters of larger charities can often step in to be of aid.

Just imagine where we would be today without charities that spearhead research into cancer, that work to relieve the grinding poverty of hope and expectation that affects so many billions around the world, that support children who are abused and neglected.

Poverty and disadvantage still exists. Not all children have a safe, happy and loving family life and the life chance gap between some children and their peers is not closing. There are so many charities out there working diligently to improve the lives of those less fortunate.  We've had the opportunity to visit many of these organization and see first hand the impact they are having on the children they serve.

Adrian at KidsPack
Adrian at KidsPack

An estimated16.2 million children live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.   As a result, about 1 in 5 children go hungry at some point during the year.  In the U.S., hunger is caused by the prevalence of poverty, not food scarcity. Stable food access is often blocked for low-income families that struggle to balance the need for food with other basic necessities.

More than 22 million children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program. For many of these children, school meals may be the only meals they eat. What happens when they go home over the weekend?  School lunches — and the uptick of school breakfast programs — help curb some of the barriers in access. But lacking stable food access at home can have devastating impacts on a child's ability to get the most out of their education.

While in Lakeland, Florida, Adrian visited KidsPACK.  KidsPack is based on a simple principle - ACTION.  There are disadvantaged children all around us that go hungry every day. We just don’t often hear about them.

While subsidized school breakfast and lunch programs are in place during school hours, what happens at mealtime for these very same children evenings, weekends and over summer months?

Breakfast and lunch at school may be the only source of meals for many children. The weekend means “NO FOOD”.  A hungry student is less likely to learn and more likely to lose hope.  KidsPACK is striving to bridge the gap.

Working with local community volunteers, they are able to pack food for children to take into their homes and serve as sustenance when they are not at school.  The benefits are long-lasting. Hunger has a direct link to a child’s ability to learn as well as health.

Beanstalk Helping Children Read, Grow and Succeed
Beanstalk Helping Children Read, Grow and Succeed

Beanstalk, located in London, was founded by their President, Susan Belgrave, in 1973. They were originally called Volunteer Reading Help and became Beanstalk in 2012 in time for their 40th anniversary.

Susan saw a volunteering scheme in action in a Harlem school in New York. Impressed by the results she decided to set up a similar scheme in schools in North Kensington. 

Since then, Beanstalk has gone from strength-to-strength. They have grown from a handful of volunteers to a network of almost 3,100 trained reading helpers supporting approximately 11,000 children across England.

Illiteracy is a persistent national problem in the UK. Their challenge is to ensure that every child leaves school with the skills and confidence to reach their true potential and control their own lives. Last year over 200,000 children left primary school unable to read to the expected level. 70% of pupils permanently excluded from school have difficulties with basic literacy and 25% of young offenders have reading skills below that of the average 7 year old.

Thanks to their volunteers, Beanstalk is now a respected voice in the children's literacy landscape and is a leading member of campaigns to improve literacy across the UK and Europe.

In October, you can join Beanstalk on one of their Challenge Events...a 3-day trek to the summit of North Africa’s highest peak, ending with a project visit to a cliff side village school to set up somewhere special to read. In addition to helping local children, the money raised will help them spread the joy of reading to children across England.  This trek, through the High Atlas Mountains to summit Mt Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak at 4167m, is not just a great challenge — it's also an immersion into the culture of the Berber people, Morocco's original inhabitants. Few roads penetrate this craggy mountain stronghold, where the way of life has changed little over centuries.  For more information, visit Beanstalk's website.


Adrian with Geoff Wilson, Executive Director America Scores LA
Adrian with Geoff Wilson, Executive Director America Scores LA

Non-school hours represent the single largest block of time in the lives of American children and youth.

Many of the country’s most vulnerable children and youth are not benefitting from afterschool and summer learning programs, which have a proven track record of success helping students succeed in school and in life, because these programs are in short supply in communities of concentrated poverty.

More than 20 million children and youth live in communities of concentrated poverty, many of them attending schools with high dropout rates. Quality after-school programs keep students safe, inspire them to learn and help working families, and they can improve prospects for children and youth growing up in impoverished communities. 

Adrian visited America Scores Los Angeles (ASLA) and talked with their Executive Director, Geoff Wilson. America SCORES LA uses soccer, poetry, and service to inspire urban youth to lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world. Their innovative approach improves students’ health, academic achievement, and civic engagement. America SCORES LA students outperform their peers in the classroom, are healthier, and demonstrate increased confidence. In addition 98% of Alumni participants have graduated from High School—far exceeding the District average of 60%.

ASLA provides a safe after school alternative in an area where youth centers, libraries and parks are noticeably absent. It is well documented that kids across the country continue to suffer from rising obesity rates and low literacy rates. This is an even greater problem for schools in under-resourced communities with less and less time to incorporate physical activity and creative arts into the school day. This is the disparity ASLA was formed to address. The recipe is simple. ASLA brings students together to play soccer, write, and perform community service. This helps them engage in their health, school, and community, providing students in under-resourced neighborhoods with the tools to succeed in school and life.