Lifting Up Elijah
Elijah, age 7
In the spring of 2014, when Elijah’s mom registered him for Lincoln’s Freedom Schools summer program, she learned about Lincoln’s West Oakland Initiative (WOI) at the same time. She learned from the WOI coordinator that, through the program, Lincoln staff were working with families to improve school attendance, reading levels and behavior. She also learned how to get immediately involved with the West Oakland Initiative in order to help Elijah, an IEP student in a mild-moderate special day class, who had already missed more than 10 days of school that year and was unable to read.
During the summer of 2014, through daily interaction with this mother and son, the Lincoln team learned that the family had a history of trauma, which was having a direct impact on the son’s academic performance and behavior challenges. The Lincoln team and the Freedom Schools community (staff and parents) wrapped their arms around Elijah and his mother, providing a network of support that included informal conversations between the mother and other parents about topics that ranged from managing stress, how to appropriately speak to children and ways to address internalized racism in the African American community.
Today, Elijah is making great strides, and he and his mother are still a part of Lincoln’s West Oakland Initiative. Participating in both Lincoln’s Freedom Schools and DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) events offered by the West Oakland Initiative allows him to learn and socialize with his peers, from whom he is normally isolated being in the special day class structure at his regular school. Immersion into Lincoln’s programs has allowed him to build his social emotional skills and improve both his attendance and reading levels. Elijah’s mom takes advantage of all opportunities and services available to her and her children, and she as well as her mother have become two of our biggest parent advocates.