Program In Santa Barbara County Uses Fun To Spark Summer Learning Among At-Risk Kids

Jun 28, 2016

Busload after busload of kids arrives at the Music Academy of the West, in Montecito.

Hundreds of kids are taking part in the United Way of Santa Barbara County’s “Fun In The Sun” program.

It’s a program for at-risk kids which mixes education and fun activities to not only keep kids occupied for part of the summer, but to help them improve academically.

Paul Didier is President, and CEO of the United Way of Santa Barbara County. The non-profit runs the program, which involves 72 different agencies, and is supported by 19 different groups. This is the fifth year the Music Academy of the West, and Montecito Bank and Trust have hosted one of the “Fun In The Sun” events.

It starts off with a music filled carnival with games, a photo both, arts and crafts, and face painting. But, these kids are also doing something many people have never done in their lifetime. They’re the guests of honor at the opera.

In fact, it’s the West Coast premiere of an opera, called “Second Nature,’ which looks at what could happen to the world in the future if we don’t step back to protect our environment. Seven year old Alejandra Torrez liked her first opera experience, saying she likes the theme of protecting nature.

14 year old Jacqueline Rosas gave it a thumbs-up review, saying it was a very interesting experience.

Didier says the mix of fun, and education really works, with the program getting national recognition over the years. And while the activity was music today, it could be science, or engineering tomorrow, with a number of education enrichment activities built into this program.