CDF asked children, college students and caregivers to “freedom dream” with us. At every site, our partners from the Ink Factory situated a big whiteboard with colorful sticky notes to visually capture what we heard.
About the Site
This summer, we redefined the role of expert to center the lived experiences of the children, youth, and caregivers we serve. In California, we visited the CDF Freedom Schools® site at Martin Luther King, Jr. Technology Academy in Sacramento. We asked CDF Freedom Schools parents, caregivers, and Servant Leader Interns (SLIs) to share their experiences and challenges faced in their community and schools.
When asked what is happening in their community or the world that makes it hard to raise children, many shared their concerns on racism, gangs, injustice, homelessness, and the influence of social media. Key focus areas also included overall health and healing, family economic mobility, just and caring communities, and early childhood development.
CDF Freedom Schools community members also offered a response to the question we raised: What issues or causes are you concerned about or working on in your campus or community? The education system, food shortages, cost of living, and mental health awareness were identified as top issues.
CDF asked parents to help us identify issues most important to them.
“Over the last few years, I’ve witnessed…the lack of commitment within communities and then the excuses that come with it. I feel like we are in a new era where we have so many resources and we cut ourselves short because the work is too much. Instead of doing the work, we’d rather just take the short end.”
“I go to a predominately white institution and it is gated both literally and figuratively. There are so many resources at my school, but the community around my school is a food desert, there’s violence everywhere. It just seems like there’s so much disconnect between my school and the community.”
“I have two 8-year-olds and a 9-year-old. The special thing about all this is that my 9- year-old and my 8-year-old are my niece and nephew, and they’ve experienced a lot of change in their life. The program helped them build their confidence, make friends, because the environment they come from is not healthy. So, it was so important that they make friends and that their teachers are nice, their instructors are nice, and they make them feel like they can do anything.”
“Especially around conversations of mental health, I feel like that is a lot of the reason why It’s kind of hard for us to come together, kind of hard for us to connect to one another and our family because it’s kind of hard to connect with ourselves.”
“I feel like the first step is that everyone has to start with evaluating themself first. I feel like a lot of people don’t do that and we have so many expectations from our children. We want them to go to college, we want them to get good grades, ‘you’re supposed to be like this,’ ‘you’re supposed to have this attitude,’ but then we don’t have that attitude. A lot of us are broken in so many ways and we’ve been taught so many things that we need to break habit of and change.”
“[There’s] not enough role models. I feel like I’ve brought kids, after working with kids for so many years, around me and my group of fellas to show them that there’s things outside of hoop or drugs, but a lot of them still think that’s literally the only two options.”
“I’m starting to get to a point in my life where I start to feel uneasy and I couldn’t figure out why. It was kind of stressing me out. I think I finally boiled it down to it being my hometown and this being all I know. I feel overwhelmed when I come back and just kind of depressed, but when I go to other places, I feel like it could be home.”
“If you’re not here for the children, why are you here?”
We asked our CDF Freedom Schools parents and Servant Leader Interns at Martin Luther King Jr. Technology Academy what freedom looks like to them. Here are their responses.
Highlights from our Visit
Learn more about CDF’s site visits in these cities: