Nonprofit CHAT holding Summer Academy
Culture of Health — Advancing Together (CHAT), a nonprofit organization based in Gulfton, is holding a Summer Academy, which consists of weekly camps.
CHAT’s mission is to foster the health and well-being of immigrant and refugee communities through the education, arts, advocacy and access to care.
Dr. Aisha Siddiqui, the founder of CHAT, noted that there is already an after school CHAT Academy, which helps the students with their homework, and gives them the opportunity to participate in activities such as art, photography and music, so it was a natural continuation to develop a Summer CHAT Academy.
“We realized that these are the children who are missing out on things and are deprived of things that others would have. We do not want the children to be running around unattended, and not having structured activities,” Siddiqui said
Aside from integrating and helping the immigrant and refugee children become more social, an important part of the CHAT Academy’s is helping the students learn English.
“We found out, based on interviews with people, that both children and adults need help with English, but the children need it more because they are in school,” Siddiqui said.
The Summer CHAT Academy, and the CHAT organization is located at Ashford Crescent Oaks Apartments, 6718 De Moss Dr, Houston.
Children have the option of attending one week long camp, up to all of the camps, for five weeks. The camps start on July 8 through August 9. The camps are Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Siddiqui highly encourages the children to come for the entire five weeks. Some of the activities last throughout the entire Academy. For instance, last year, the students worked on a play the entire five weeks. The students wrote the play and then acted it out. The performance was public and open to everyone.
The Summer CHAT Academy combats summer learning loss, by providing students with basic curriculum such as math and reading, mixed in with elective activities. “Fun Fridays” feature fun activities for the children such as baking and cooking classes, or a day at a local splash pad.
This year the Academy is partnering with the Houston Food Bank, and a breakfast, hot lunch and snacks will be provided every day.
There will be planned field trips based on sponsorship opportunities. Last summer the students were able to go to the museums and Hermann Park, thanks to sponsorships from the museums.
“Our resources are limited, so most activities take place inside the apartment complex. It is always wonderful to have a sponsor. We can do a lot more with the children that way,” Siddiqui said.
Siddiqui notes that most of the people that help out with CHAT and the Academy’s are volunteers from the area colleges and high schools, and CHAT can always use more volunteers.
“We do not have luxury to hire tutors, but our student volunteers help so much. They all speak the languages and that makes a difference. It makes a stronger connection,” Siddiqui said.
For volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, go to http://chattx.org, and click on the Volunteer tab, or Contact Us.
“All the children love the program,” Siddiqui said.
Siddiqui remembered a nine-year-old boy who attended the Academy last summer. He had lived with his grandmother in South America and had just joined the rest of his family in Houston.
“He was very shy and would not speak with anyone. In the summer he got very active. He was involved in the writing and the staging of the play. He is a good actor. The mother had tears in her eyes. She could not believe it,” Siddiqui said.
Parents can register their children, and learn more information at https://chattx.org/summer-camp/. The weekly cost is $65 for children living at the Ashford Crescent Oaks complex, or those already involved with the after school CHAT Academy. For others it is $95 per week. Siddiqui hopes to receive corporate or individual sponsorships to help more children attend the academy.