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 North Carolina, we visited the CDF Freedom Schools® site at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. 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 socioeconomic division, gun violence, racism, failing public school systems, and the impact of social media. Key focus areas also included overall health and healing, family economic mobility, just and caring communities, early childhood development, and civic engagement.
CDF Freedom Schools community members also offered a response to the question we raised: What should we be doing to make change for the children? Voting, volunteering at schools, and increasing the minimum wage and salaries of educators were identified as top issues
CDF asked parents to help us identify issues most important to them.
“About four summers ago, my granddaughter was supposed to spend the summer with me. She passed the grade but, somewhere in the spring she lost her enthusiasm for school…I have to tell you that the time that she spent here in Freedom School [at Kimberly Park Elementary School] was a jumpstart for her. She once again began to love reading. Her verbal skills were strengthened…we could see the impact of the time that she spent here. As a member of the community, I want to see an expansion.”
“I was abroad this last semester [in Vienna, Austria]… so the war in Ukraine was a lot closer to me. I feel like the issues in our country and in the surrounding countries when I was abroad makes it hard for me to be my most positive self, especially now because I come home and I’m faced with everything going on in the world, it feels like there’s not as much joy being fed to us. There’s a lot more negativity and things that are deep-seated issues, not just one-off issues. There’s big huge things happening in the world and all around us and I think it can be hard to decompress and rest in order to be present or be my best self for the Scholars.”
“How do we get our children to a level that we’re not at and where does that start? It starts with us, in trying to change their outcomes. We had some people talking about having to build community within themselves so that they can change their own mobility, so that they can change the mobility of their children. We had some people talking about education—where does it start and the foundation of it—so that you can move your level through education. Not necessarily just through “dollars” but to be able to empower them [their children] to move levels through education.”
We asked our CDF Freedom Schools parents and Servant Leader Interns at Wake Forest University what freedom looks like to them. Here are their responses.
Highlights from our Visit
Learn more about CDF’s site visits in these cities: