Ahwatukee resident builds summer program for struggling kids - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

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Ahwatukee resident builds summer program for struggling kids

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Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 2:16 pm

Ahwatukee resident Sally Visnansky has been devoting the past four months to getting the Learning Detectives Summer Academy off the ground.

The academy, an all-day summer program, specializes on learning activities for children who are suffering from learning and social disabilities.

The curriculum is formulated around different learning activities across subjects such as reading, math and science.

“We started this program because there is nothing for students who struggle academically, behaviorally and socially that’s a full-day program,” Visnansky said. “Typically if you have social deficits, you’ll have a camp for three hours, but nothing is full day. For working parents, there aren’t a lot of options that gives their kids a chance to work on both academics and social pieces.”

Each subject is taught in a 45-minute interval, where student complete three different hands-on activities.

Each activity students participate in aligns with the Common Core Standards, Visnansky said.

“The idea is to review first because statistics show that every child loses two months of knowledge over the summer,” she said.

Students also learn how to socially interact with one another and learn how to make friends with their peers.

Social pieces such as on how to interact with kids, how to make friends and how to work in groups are an important aspect each student learns during the Learning Detectives Summer Academy, Visnansky said.

The summer camp, provided by Arizona Learning Institute, also allows students to sharpen their education in subjects in which they may be falling behind.

“All of us struggle with that from time to time, but when you have a diagnosed or soon-to-be-diagnosed emotional disability, that can be crippling,” she said. “It also can inhibit your ability to work because you’re so worried about what others are thinking.”

Visnansky, Arizona Learning Institute’s chief operations officer, fell on hard times trying to get the word out about Learning Detectives Summer Academy while using her own money for marketing the summer camp.

She originally secured a location for the summer program, but could not keep enrollment to a minimum of 18 students.

Luckily, she received help from Ahwatukee resident Jenn Lannon, who owns her own gymnastic building, and secured a location for the program free of charge.

Currently, enrollment fluctuates from three to eight students, but Visnansky said the camp has the capacity to house 30 students.

“I see that these kids need it, and it made me realize that I need to do this,” Visnansky said. “For these individual kids, they don’t have an option, so if I can make a difference for these kids who are here, then so be it.”

Visnansky’s volunteer, Jacob Durrant, has offered his services throughout the summer for free in order to help his former teacher.

“I wanted to help her out, and she taught me in the fourth grade,” Durrant said. “I help her with anything she needs and with the activities.”

Learning Detectives Summer Academy offers a week-to-week program for parents so they can work the program around their summer schedule.

For more information about Learning Detectives Summer Academy, visit www.azlearninginst.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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