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 Serving the underserved: start with kids

Editor’s Note: McLeod County hosted an essay contest as part of its student government day in April. The essay theme was “Serving the Underserved.” The winner was Abigail Reiter, a student at Hutchinson High School. Her essay appears below.

By Abigail Reiter
Hutchinson High School
Every child at some point feels like they don’t belong; they don’t have people who support them, no matter how many friends they feel they have or how much their parents might support them. For many children living below the poverty line, their parents are around less, so proportionally these kids have a higher chance of not achieving as a result of missing support. The best way to help out the future of our country is to help the kids; help the kids who feel left out and not supported, help the kids who dream big but feel they can never achieve their dreams, help the kids who want to help others but don’t have the means to. By providing an avenue that accommodates all children and giving them a chance to have support they might not get on their own, poverty levels have a higher chance of decreasing. The way that this could be done is by starting an after-school reading program that could be led by high school students.
Many parents work until 5 in the afternoon; this means that many kids have to go to day care after school, which is just another burden on families below the poverty line. By creating an after-school program, it would be a productive place some of these kids could go that would be safer than them being home by themselves at such a young age for hours at a time. Not only that, but this program could be a place that children feel they could belong. It would be a place that they could feel safe and see how even teenagers can be positive influences. By having people to aspire to be, these kids would have a higher chance of succeeding later in life. Not only is it beneficial for the younger kids, it also teaches high schoolers how to be leaders and helps them with quick thinking that usually must accompany working with kids. It’s also a way for students to earn volunteer hours which helps their chances of getting accepted into colleges.
I myself have seen the amazing benefits that reading can have because of positive influences in my childhood that led to my love of reading. I believe that this want to read and understand was transferred onto learning and achieving in the classroom and beyond. If every child were able to experience the same transformation, imagine how much farther along our society could be.
People born into poverty tend to stay in poverty unless an outside force is able to help. By becoming involved with every child, including kids who aren’t perceived as the best and brightest, we are able to stop this chain and help every kid achieve their wildest imaginations. Starting an after school reading program for students in elementary school would not only help the children, it would also transform teenagers into leaders. By serving the underserved, we are able to grow and truly call our country the land of opportunity.