My Summer as an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate

By Fiona Lamb, AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate

When I was in second grade I was diagnosed with dyslexia and was far behind my classmates in regards to reading proficiency. I was lucky.  I had access to the support I needed to perform well in school from then on.  However, I know that many children in Santa Fe are unable to get the same level of support. That’s why when I heard of an opportunity with AmeriCorps to help impact the lives of children within my community through literacy programming, I jumped at the chance.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA Literacy Summer Associate, I have had the opportunity to work with The Reading Group in several capacities to promote literacy in Santa Fe. The Reading Group is an Opportunity Santa Fe collaborative working group focused on improving 3rd grade reading proficiency in Santa Fe. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, I work in conjunction with The Food Depot’s Lunchbox Express, a summer program that brings food to children in impoverished communities, to run literacy games and activities with the children who are receiving lunch. Together we play games tailored to reading like Jenga with words and building Legos to create stories. We read aloud together, and I get a chance to give children books to take home. All of this is in an effort to provide enjoyable multi-level educational enrichment to children who might not otherwise have access to summer enrichment.

In addition to Lunchbox Express, I have been working with Reading Quest, a nonprofit that helps children who are not reading at grade level.  I tutor two children in Reading is Magic, a collaboration between Reading Quest and Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences. The free summer camp and after school program, supported by the City and County, are designed to create a magical reading realm where kids explore the magical time of the Middle Ages while working diligently on their reading skills. The final aspect of my job has been to work with the summer camps at Santa Fe School for the Arts & Sciences, such as the Move and Play and Sculpting 101, for kids ages 3 to 6, helping teachers conduct activities in their classrooms.

My experience this summer as an AmeriCorps VISTA has given me the invaluable experience of being able to positively impact the lives of children in my community.