Lewis Place Reflection

A note from JOHANNA REEDY, SLU Senior, Public Health

This summer I had the pleasure of working with Lewis Place Historical Center to create a day camp for the children in their North St. Louis community. We created a camp of about 25 campers that were between the ages of 6 and 12. Camp was 6 hours each day during which we planted vegetables, played, danced, sang, read, tie-dyed and even had the opportunity to meet firefighters from the area. We were also given the opportunity to visit Babler State Park, the Contemporary Art Museum, the library, and the pool. We forged a relationship with these kids that is unforgettable. They are children who have rarely, if ever, been outside of their neighborhood. We gave them the opportunity to see and do things that they hadn’t done before.

Additionally, we were constantly learning from each other. I was learning what activities they were receptive to and they were learning what my boundaries were. We learned to adjust to different weather conditions and we learned to adjust to sudden changes in plans. This experience was different from any other experience I have ever had and I am eternally grateful for that. I had to think on my feet, be in control, and make executive decisions in ways that I had never had to do before. These children had more energy than any group of kids I have ever met. They taught me a great deal about myself and about the social structures of St. Louis. Communities such as this one are often overlooked, which is so unfortunate. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to view this community through the lens of their youth. I am also grateful to have had the chance to partner with such a unique and dynamic community in an area of St. Louis.