Our Children needed a safe haven from the perils (drugs, prostitution, violence & poverty) of the inner-city which surrounds our Village because they are all "latch-key children". We found many of our children were failing in School and their parents' were unable to assist them, due to a language barrier. We needed to build up basic skills including research and basic computer technology. All homework etc. is assisted and checked by experienced teachers before a student can participate in the game room.
In the game room, the children play board games, paint, work on puzzles and also play video games. In this way the children learn social skills, good sportsmanship and self-esteem, while providing a safe place for them. They also have the opportunity to earn "tickets" while completing some of the above activities and also by working outside with an adult, raking leaves, picking-up excess garbage around the property and many other supervised jobs.
The ticket program is the children's reward. It also teaches them the basic values of working for what they want and purchasing power, that their parents' could not afford. They use their tickets to buy brand new gifts for their family members' birthdays and Christmas.
All of the brand new gifts in the ticket room are donated from various Churches, Societies and private individuals. The goal of the ticket room is that you must work for what you receive.
In the summer, we provide a five (5) week program of Reading, Math, Arts & Crafts and Physical Activities and Guest Speakers giving workshops on drugs their effects and imprisonment, etc. Every Wednesday is trip day for both fun and educational, for e.g. Bronx Zoo. The children must earn 600 tickets in order to participate in the summer program without cost to their parents' except for a registration fee of $35.00.
As we educate the children, we help parents to understand the culture and economics of the city. We teach the family to value education. We even help with adult education needs, food and clothing.
The senior citizens in the housing complex have a rich and rewarding relationship with the children and younger families. They sort donations and staff sales and events. They are also our guest at concerts, parties and fashion shows. It's great to see granny "cut a rug" with the kids at our Halloween dance.
Our Learning Center has at least 35 children actively participating daily. Without our Center and the daily efforts of our staff, these inner-city children would not succeed, as many have in the past 26 years of our existence in the basement of one of the buildings in the Village.
To learn more, call (973) 881-7115, or reach us via the contact us link!
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Sister Merita Learning Center
1 Green Street
Paterson, NJ 07501