At home, Christian Burton does the dishes and keeps his room clean.
Sometimes he has to “vacuum and stuff.” He doesn’t mind; he’s a responsible kind of kid, the 9-year-old proudly admits.
So on Wednesday, he thought Robinson Elementary Principal Anthony Bronaugh did just fine talking about responsibility to a room of youngsters during a weekly “Breakfast with Leaders” series at the Summer Extravaganza program at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church at Ashland and Woodruff avenues in Toledo’s central city.
“We’re navigating through the ills and bringing positivity for the community,” said Keith Jordan who, with his father, the Rev. Jimmy L. Jordan, launched the summer-long program 10 years ago. The breakfast series is in its first year. The program has six staffers and a director. It’s funded primarily by Owens-Illinois Inc., Mr. Jordan said.
About 45 children, ages 5 through 16, enroll each year in the free summer program, which focuses on fitness, education, and character development, Mr. Jordan said.
“We make sure that kids, during the summer slump, keep learning and have a safe haven during the day rather than getting into mischief and bullying and cyber bullying,” Mr. Jordan said.
Many of the children in the program live in Toledo’s inner-city neighborhoods, Mr. Jordan said. In the program, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., each child works closely with the staff to improve reading and math skills and, when necessary, get a little tough love.
One young boy, tears streaming down his cheeks, came in with a teacher just before breakfast. He’d told a few kids on the playground to “shut up,” the teacher told Mr. Jordan, who then summoned the boy. After a quick, but stern, talking to, Mr. Jordan sent the boy into the kitchen to help prepare breakfast.
Mr. Bronaugh told the children — who managed to pay attention despite having hot waffles, sausage, and potatoes in front of them — that there are four components to responsibility: at home, at school, to the community, and to yourself. He mentioned the juveniles who were recently in trouble for vandalizing Robinson earlier this month, throwing rocks at windows and setting Dumpsters on fire.
“Why did they do that? Because something is missing at home,” Mr. Bronaugh said. He reminded the older kids in the group that the younger ones look up to them and will model their behavior, both the good and the bad.
At the end, each child had to tell Mr. Bronaugh something they remembered from his talk. Many of them said, simply, responsibility. Others mentioned, “respect your community,” “get A’s in class,” “clean up after yourself.”
“We get to keep learning,” the Burton youth said about the Summer Extravaganza program. “We don’t forget things.”