Dallas City of Learning used the breadth of the city as a platform during its pilot season. The initiative made its last stop of the summer at Fair Oaks Park in Vickery Meadow.
At it’s final Turn Up!event in a six-part series, comers celebrated diversity with the Brazillian martial art form capoeira, Aztec dancers, a jazz ensemble, and a drum circle. It was a window into the cultural opportunities many don’t realize are close by.
“The Turn Ups are free social learning events. Families can experience firsthand what Dallas City of Learning has to offer,” said Erin Offord, director of community relations at Big Thought, a partner in running the local branch of City of Learning.
The MacArthur Foundation, an initial partner in the first City of Learning program in Chicago, Illinois, invests in groups that see learning as social, interest-driven and connected to the real world, said Tawa Mitchell, who works in digital media for the institution.
“When you bring all three elements together, you can really inspire children to learn more,” she said.
In the center of the action, colorful umbrellas children designed for the program were suspended from a canopy.
“The best part of this installation is no one owns it,” lead artist in the project Jeremy McKane said. ” It’s all about collaboration. We came together to make something beautiful happen.”
Children earned digital badges, an online manifestation of a student’s accomplishments, at the dozens of booths available.
“Earning a digital badge demonstrates and signals to others what they’ve learned,” Mitchell said. “That’s what learning will look like in the future.”
Booths offered spaces to paint and draw, create sock puppets and study water management.
Dallas City of Learning joined four other major cities in the effort to combat summer slide, or summer learning loss often driven by low income.
“What’s great about this strategy is it’s local,” Mitchell said. “Dallas can make it for Dallas.”