Profile: Freedom School in Ohio

Each summer, hundreds of students in the West Ohio Annual Conference participate in a Children's Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School, a six-week program dedicated to increasing literacy in students who have fallen behind in their studies. Beyond this, CDF Freedom Schools aim to help children fall in love with reading, increase their self-esteem, and generate more positive attitudes toward learning.

With 12 of the 23 Ohio CDF Freedom Schools run by United Methodist churches or organizations, the United Methodist Church has played a key role in expanding the opportunities for students to participate. Still, there are many more who could benefit - with the help of your congregation!

Your offering on Peace with Justice Sunday helps the West Ohio Annual Conference support Freedom Schools.

Here are just a few stories of impact from Freedom School scholars, leaders, parents, and churches:

"My name is J'Juan Briggs and I am 13 years old, and I really enjoyed Freedom Schools this summer because we read a lot, went on field trips and the best part, Harambee.  I really enjoyed myself, had fun and I learned something new every day." (Westwood/Wesley Freedom School, Dayton)

"Being an SLI [Student Leader Intern] at Freedom Schools, has been an amazing experience this summer. I loved working with the children in my community, and having an impact on them.... Every day I got to watch the scholars grow as they learned to use their voices, that they have power, became better readers, were taught their history, learned about proper nutrition, and for some, began to realize how important education is. These children got an opportunity to experience things that they might not have gotten to anywhere else. Some of my proudest moments at Freedom School have been in my classroom. I taught my scholars that they can always [ask] questions, to question the world around them, [and] that just because things have always been a certain way does not mean that they can't be changed. I have taught and learned so much at Freedom Schools, but one of the most important things I have learned is to never give up on a child, even when you think they have given up on themselves. That's why Freedom Schools is special because we believe that a child can always go down a path to success, they might just need help getting there." (Nakeya Walker, University District Freedom School, Columbus)

"Thank you all for EVERYTHING you do to make the program what it is. I have put my daughter in so much, paid more than I really could have for different programs and nothing can even come close to the experiences at freedom school. She comes home singing the songs [and] writing words. She made a clock today. The kids laughed and talked all the way home about 'the man in silly red pj's that read a book about a women in a shoe.' She gets out of bed singing 'GOOD MORNING.' What you guys are doing for these kids is amazing and I'm sure I am not the only mom that feels this way. Thank You!" !" (a parent at the Johnstown Freedom School)

Covenant UMC in Springfield decided to conduct a Freedom School because many students lose a degree of academic skills over the summer months; it gives scholars a chance to experience a sense of socialization with other students in a smaller environment; and it provides the scholars with an opportunity to have their voices heard on a matter of social justice. (Covenant UMC's Freedom School)

West Ohio Annual Conference website

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, Peace with Justice Sunday enables The United Methodist Church to have a voice in advocating for peace and justice through a broad spectrum of global programs. The special offering benefits peace with justice ministries in the annual conference and through the General Board of Church and Society.

When you give generously on Peace with Justice Sunday, you give The United Methodist Church a voice in advocating for global peace and justice. Give now.