Central New York, Community, Education

Syracuse’s Refugee Community Benefit From Youth Program

The RISE center where children gather for summer programs in the afternoon © Ashtyn Hiron 2018

Click the play button above to learn more on summer programs run for refugee children.

Audio Transcription: RISE summer program

By Ashtyn Hiron SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Refugee children are learning to read, write, and improve their English at the Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) Center in Syracuse.

RISE is located on Burt Street in Syracuse amidst a community housing Somalian refugees.

Aaron Epling, Youth education coordinator for the summer program at RISE invests time, care, and attention into refugee children in the Syracuse community. Epling spends two hours a day for four days a week running the Lessons in Literacy, Learning and Life program. Walking around the neighborhood each day to pick children up from their houses to attend the program.

“The kids come in and we do a little reading, writing, and group activities if we can. We have some snacks and then we go out and play in the park. We play different games, because it is a summer program and we do want them to have fun,” Epling said.

This year as participation rapidly increases, RISE separated the program into two groups. The first afternoon session is for children in kindergarten to fourth grade and the second session is for children in fifth to eighth grade. Epling said splitting the group into two helps to eliminate confrontations between the younger and older children, who are often siblings. It also allows staff to tailor lessons and activities to the age range of the child they are teaching.

“We’re just trying to be an added support system for these children, which I think they need. It’s hard to put yourself in their shoes because I’ve never lived through a second of what they have been through in their lives,” he said.

Lessons in Literacy, Learning, and Life runs until mid August. RISE also offers after-school programs, free summer lunches, and youth summits.