Kids get an up-close look at the big rigs

WASHINGTON – Picture a huge parking lot full of everything D.C.: a helicopter, fire trucks (including ladder and foam trucks), all types of police and EMS vehicles, even parking authority vehicles – you know, the infamous tow trucks.

This was the kickoff for D.C.’s third annual One City Summer Initiative, held in the parking lots at RFK Stadium on Saturday, as well as the city’s annual Truck Touch event, giving kids the chance to get into the big vehicles themselves.

The goal of the initiative is twofold – to keep kids safe and to battle “learning loss” over the summer break.

Program coordinator Rebecca Renard says summer is a powerful time for kids to grow. But summer learning loss is a real threat.

Renard says, “Summer learning loss is that idea that if a young person isn’t mentally engaged over the two months of the summer, that they actually experience a setback when they go into the new school year.”

One way to combat learning loss is to use everyday experiences such as grocery shopping as teaching moments. Renard suggests “having youth create budgets for the groceries, having them read the labels on the food and look at the different ingredients that are in there. Increasing their vocabulary and asking questions (such as) what does a calorie mean?”

She also suggests reading the newspaper with your child. She says that poetry is a great engager for tweens and teens. She adds that this age group really likes to talk about themselves, so it’s a good tendency to capitalize on.

Mary Kay Queen and her husband John and their two girls came from Old Town Alexandria for the event. Mary Kay says she engages her kids by going to different spots in town learning about different things. Jeff says,”D.C. is a great place to get cultural events all summer really – monuments and things like this.”

The One City Summer Initiative is a collaboration amongst D.C. government agencies, community-based organizations and others. The program is more than summer school, summer camps and summer jobs – the idea is to expand summer learning for kids while keeping them busy and thus cutting back on the potential for a spike in summer crimes.

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