As we inch towards summer, the kids at ACH are eager to spend their afternoons outside. With the weather getting warmer, there are less kids than usual and they have less homework. This means most of my days at ACH are spent playing outside or sitting in on music class. I couldn’t be happier that the kids get to have some fun, instead of doing an hour of homework first. As I played with the kids and sat in on their music class, I started to notice the way that each individual child is treated here at ACH.
Both days this week, we spent the first part of the afternoon outside or playing with Legos and then moved upstairs to music class. On the playground, the kids like to play fast-paced games like tag or the floor is lava, jumping on and off of the playground equipment with speed and excitement. The kids in ACH span a wide age range, including students from kindergarten up through fifth or sixth grade. It was interesting to watch the same kids who had produced such a wide variety of art earlier in the semester, find their own niche on the playground. While a few of the girls jumped up and down in their dress shoes, splashing in last night’s puddles, others sung as they spun around at high speeds on a new kind of merry-go-round. While it was great to watch the kids sort themselves into groups for their favorite games or activities, the best moment of the week for me was learning about how ACH protects their kids.
A new little girl who is only five years old and half the size of all of the other kids, found herself run over in the pile up of kids on the playground slide. Two of the boys immediately held her hands and walked her over to a counselor as one of the older girls wrapped her up in a hug and gently patted her head. Before I knew it, all of ACH was gathered around the bench listening as their counselor explained that they were responsible for protecting the ‘little kids’. One of the more rambunctious boys got up and wrapped his arm around the littlest girl’s shoulders, declaring that no one was allowed to mess with her. The acceptance and sense of family at ACH are unmatched. The kids understand the importance of community in a way most adults don’t even understand.
I’m looking forward to my last few days with the kids at ACH as the semester comes to an end. After helping them work through their homework and complete art projects for most of the semester, it is exciting to see them relax and have some fun. Even more so, I am happy that for one brief semester, I got to be part of such a tight-knit and fiercely protective community of students and staff.