Central Arkansas has a number of other programs serving the at-risk child; however, we believe that P.A.R.K. is unique. The reason being is P.A.R.K. offers a five-year, year-round weekly education program to each child; a community service component to mold productive citizens; and an impressive recreational facility to entice the particular child into learning, studying and giving. P.A.R.K. engages each student where they are: poor study habits, lack of motivation, and self-esteem issues. There are several components offered by P.A.R.K. that are not found in the above-mentioned organizations. They are an educational summer program, community service, incentives, and college prep to mention a few.
P.A.R.K is designed to focus on the overall well-being of the students in the program. Particularly, it is designed to help them reach their educational potential. This is a mental, physical, and spiritual challenge for the majority of the youth participating. This project will allow students to have hands-on experience and opportunities not practiced often or never before. Proper and adequate tools are accessible to each of the students in order to close the gap on what they have been classified as, "at-risk" and becoming a statistic. P.A.R.K. has made available possibilities never thought achievable for many of the students in the program. College for many of the students was for someone else; because they have not been encouraged to think above getting out of high school.
It's not one or two things that make P.A.R.K. work, but a plethora of areas, things and people that give the students a chance to accelerate their educational growth. When the proper supplies are utilized, learning can be attained. Even the smallest items such as a pencil, paper, or note cards are vital to learning for success. With technology as it is today, flash drives are just as much a necessity as a pencil. P.A.R.K. is on a mission to help bridge the gap and eventually close the educational gap between its students and the more academically prepared students in their classrooms. Adequate learning materials, Benchmark prep classes - (mentally preparing students to use all the learning tools to become proficient and advanced on a standardized test), and ACT preparation classes - (teaching proper study techniques, vocabulary enhancement, as well as, reasoning skills to improve overall scores on the ACT exam itself) are some of the tools and programs used to help bridge the gap. Also, college experiences and tours -- (opening up horizons never ventured before by them, and for many, no one in their families), seminars, educational field trips, and many other things help bring about a change in the lives of these young people. All of these things are crucial in reaching our goal.
P.A.R.K. students have and will continue to graduate from the program with a fresh outlook on life and a wealth of knowledge to take them to the next level in their lives.
As stated before; the students P.A.R.K. serves are classified as "at-risk". That term encompasses a lot of things, such as, dropping out of school, succumbing to the pressures from their peers, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and failing school. P.A.R.K. focuses on all of those areas, but its main emphasis is on education. The students who lighten P.A.R.K.'s doors are there because they are struggling academically. The reason for their struggles may stem from the home (mostly single-parent households), the neighborhood or from the classroom. However, P.A.R.K.'s role is to figure out the issue, address it and go from there.
Unfortunately, there are far too many kids who fall within this category who need the assistance, so regrettably P.A.R.K. had to put a cap on the number of students they can work with per year.
Many times, it's a lack of understanding or communication between the student and the teacher or a disruptive behavior due to a lack of self-esteem that causes the student to do poor in the classroom which in turn widens the gap in his or her learning. Whatever the reason, P.A.R.K.’s goals are to reverse the situation, improve communication, and change behavioral problems through adequate resources such as tutors and mentors. When every issue has been addressed and the student becomes receptive to aid, he/she then can work to improve educationally.