40 years accompanying young people to enhance their growth and employability

The protagonists of the “Escuela de Verano” tell us about their experience

Almost three weeks after the start of the Summer School of the Tomillo Foundation, we spoke with students, families, educators and project participants to get their views on this initiative, which aims to combat absenteeism and school dropout among children and young people between the ages of 6 and 18, in the midst of the health crisis generated by Covid-19.

Ana Tejedor, Director of the School and Community Area of the Tomillo Foundation, explains that the Summer School is part of the School of Opportunities project, which will run until June 2021, combining virtual and face-to-face education. The School of Opportunities will serve more than 400 young people and their families, involving about 100 centers in the South of Madrid, located in the districts of Usera, Villaverde, Carabanchel, Latina, Vallecas and San Blas. “We are aware that in five weeks or a year the problems of educational inequality and digital divide are not solved, but that constant accompaniment by the school, the family, institutions and social entities is vital, which in situations such as confinement, we generate a role of mediators with the educational community to support children and young people,” said the Director.

At the Tomillo Foundation we have an Emergency Fund that has improved the situation of 526 families. This fund has made it possible for 337 children and young people to receive a digital device (laptops, tablets and cell phones), 228 new Internet accesses have been provided and, finally, 109,000 euros in aid has been distributed to alleviate the immediate needs of families in precarious situations.

We also have the support of institutions such as the Community of Madrid and Tomillo’s usual collaborating companies such as J.P. Morgan and “La Caixa” Foundation, through the CaixaProinfancia program, committed to improving the quality of life of children and young people in vulnerable situations.

We spoke with Esther, mother of 3 children participating in the Summer School:

 

Ruth, an 11-year-old student, told us that she is at the Summer School because she has a pending subject and that she receives support from the trainers. She also says she is happy to see her colleagues after spending so much time locked up. Maria, another colleague of his, tells us about her experience:

Undoubtedly, this experience has also been a challenge for the trainers, such as Sara Lamas, educator at the Tomillo Foundation, who told us that “the health crisis has been a challenge because we had to digitalize in record time. We had to provide the families with resources to start working in a new intervention framework that included not only the computer aspects, but also constant monitoring of the families and economic support”.

We have found that the Summer School plays a fundamental role in reconnecting young people with their life process and their educational process. Many people, companies and institutions are making this project possible, not only with technological and educational support, but also with donations of computing devices and food, and with the work of volunteers.