At the Mission Society, we believe it’s important for all young people to have the chance to explore their city – especially one as exciting as New York. As part of our afterschool and summer curricula, students have unleashed their inner scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, immersed themselves in theatrics at Broadway shows, and discovered the world’s flora and fauna at the Bronx Zoo. Mission Society's experiential learning activities expand on classroom concepts and help our students see the vibrancy of their city.
However, these trips hold a deeper meaning for our community beyond these enriching benefits. Even though our students don’t live far from the iconic arts and cultural institutions that can only be found in New York City, they may have never visited. Nearly 40% of their families come from households with incomes of $12,150 or below, and 61% receive some form of public benefits. Parents and caretakers are under immense pressure to provide – which means they don’t always have the time or expendable income to take their children on fun outings. Many students have to take on extra responsibilities at home as well, such as caring for younger siblings or working to help supplement the family income.
A two-year study by researchers from the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania found that low-income New York City residents with more access to cultural resources experience better education, security, and health outcomes. This is where the Mission Society steps in, including these invaluable field trips as a core part of our programs.
While our focus is on leveling the educational playing field for underserved communities through these opportunities, it’s also important that our students have fun. Going to the movies, the arcade, or the ice skating rink after school are ways our students can grow in their social emotional well-being, connecting with their peers and experiencing joy. Activities like these help children discover their interests and skills, provide exciting incentives, and decrease the burden on overworked parents and guardians.
We believe every kid deserves the space to joyfully take in their city, and take a break from their regular school day and life responsibilities. It is invaluable that our young people have this chance to de-stress, benefit from the cultural offerings in their own backyard, and engage with learning in brand-new ways. We're so excited to continue to connect students with these experiences year-round and look forward to seeing where our curiosity and sense of fun and adventure bring our students next.