STOCKTON — For the last five years, Southwest Stockton Summer Reading Club has been a staple in this local south Stockton neighborhood.
Gloria Allen who is the current Lodi Unified School District community liaison runs this week-long local summer day camp out of her Denver Avenue home.
Allen's interest in helping the youth of Stockton came about when she obtained her degree in early childhood education, after which she began working at Head Start for five years. Allen later went on to serve on the Stockton Unified Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2016.
During her term in 2014, she had the idea for the program when she realized that there weren't enough programs during the summer to stimulate the minds of the kids in her neighborhood.
“Just doing something in the community, getting together with kids and doing reading and literacy.” Allen said.
With this in mind, Allen used here connections from her time as SUSD Board of Trustee, donations from the community and various organizations as well as her own dime, to get the program off the ground.
The program is run by Allen herself as well as a combination of both parent, teacher and student volunteers
Children in the program typically range from kindergarten to eighth grade.
Some of the activities for the children include group reading sessions and arts and crafts. Books and supplies were acquired from both donations from local parents and teachers, as well as teaming up with Bay Area company Booksource who provided new reading level books for the program.
“I want to work on their creativity, reading,” Allen said. “Schools out and kids just want to stay inside and watch TV which is fine but they need to be doing something that going to helpful for them.”
The children in the program are provided lunch at the nearby Taylor Elementary School. Toward the end of each day, Allen takes the kids on a day trip to a variety of education locations such as Fair Oaks Library and Micky Grove Zoo.
This all culminates to a camping trip at the end of the week to Dos Reis Regional Park in Lathrop. There, they will learn to fish and use canoes provided by the Boy Scouts of America. Allen plans to finish off the day by pitching tents and gathering around a campfire.
Local parent Altricia Williams has been bringing her daughter Milani Glen, 15, since the program began in 2014.
Glen, who now works with the kids at the club, said she enjoys working with the kids as well as “meeting new people in the program.”.
Looking toward the future of the program, Allen hopes to not only improve the day camp but also keep it local. As Allen puts it “keeping its grassroots.”
The southwest Stockton summer reading club runs through Friday.
For further information, the summer reading program or anyone interested in donating materials can reach Allen at (209) 639-6813 or (209) 928-6813.
Contact reporter Alex Coba at email@example.com.