Project Transformation stacks up more participants


Project Transformation interns from summer 2018 pose outside of the Eunice and James L. West Library; 27 young adults volunteered. Photo contributed by Julie Harding

Project Transformation, a non-profit organization that works toward improving literacy among kids in the Fort Worth area, held its eight-week summer camp from May 26 to July 28.

According to the program’s impact report, a total of 188 children attended the summer program, and 27 young adults served the organization.

Julie Harding, Project Transformation’s executive director, said the summer camp was successful.

“Ninety-eight percent of our kids maintained or improved their reading level over the summer,” she said.

Harding said the program had great growth in comparison to summer 2017.

Project Transformation interns from summer 2018 pose outside of the Eunice and James L. West Library; 27 young adults volunteered.
Photo contributed by Julie Harding

“[The program] had more kids, more interns, and the summer ran more smoothly,” Harding said.

She said that from summer 2017 to summer 2018, the program had time to build relationships with community members.

One of the relationships strengthened was with Read Fort Worth and its Summer Scholar Cohort.

“Through that partnership we were able to have retired reading specialists help out at our two Fort Worth sites: Meadowbrook and University,” she said. “Those reading specialists were able to work with our reading coordinator interns and help coach them, train them, and help with the logistics of getting all of our pre and post testing done.”

The camp has three host sites: University United Methodist Church, Meadowbrook United Methodist Church, and First United Methodist Church at Bedford.

Harding said the organization is looking to add another host site for next summer.

“Next summer we are going to have four sites,” Harding said. “We want to expand to be able to serve more children, college students, and churches. Adding a fourth site will let us provide the program up to 80 more kids, and hire about eight more interns,” she said.

In preparation for summer 2019, the organization’s focus is on adding that fourth site and continuing to increase partnerships with churches.

“With adding a new site, we will be creating a whole new library,” Harding said. “We will be looking for volunteers to help us code them, and we will be bringing new partners to support that church.”

Harding said the legacy she hopes Project Transformation leaves on its participants is “a life transformed in a positive way through relationships.”

Cassie Samuelson, a Project Transformation volunteer and community engagement coordinator, noticed the impact the summer camp had on its interns.

“A lot of the interns spoke about their convocation discernment and how whether or not they knew what they wanted to do with the rest of their summer or the rest of their lives, they at least had begun a thought process,” she said.

Azeez Akande, a Texas Wesleyan sophomore psychology and Christian studies major, interned with Project Transformation this summer.

“I wanted to find something to do this summer as an internship,” he wrote in an email. “Since [Project Transformation] offered me an opportunity to do something in the church while helping children, I decide to pursue this [internship].”

He mainly worked at the Meadowbrook site.

Families get off the mechanical bull brought in for Family Fun Night at Medowbrook’s United Methodiist Church in July. This was one of the three sites for Project Transformation.
Photo contributed by Julie Harding

“I had to create lesson plans for the children each week so that the overall lesson we wanted for the week was taught and the children had fun,” he wrote. “I also had to make sure the children were safe and followed the rules that had been set for them.”

Akande wrote that his favorite part of the summer program was the last day of the program.

“The last day of the summer, the children and my fellow leaders just had a nice going away day and showed our love for each other before everyone had to go back to school,” he wrote. “Some of the children even gave the leaders gifts to remember them by and it was so precious.”

Akande wrote that his Project Transformation experience was not what he expected, but more.

“For one, I did not think I would make as many friends this summer as I did,” he wrote. “We really bonded fast and got to know each other on a deeper level than I thought possible in eight weeks.”

He wrote that he did not expect to enjoy interacting with the children as much as he did.

“While I have no problem with children, sometimes they can really get on my last nerve,” he wrote. “That didn’t happen but a few times and they would come back better the next day.”

Akande wrote that he will definitely intern again with Project Transformation next summer.

“I had a lot of fun doing the internship and made a whole lot of connections; from the children that were at my site to my fellow interns I feel a strong bond was made and can be strengthen next summer along with some new bonds being made,” Akande wrote.

Applications to intern for summer 2019 are open.

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