PICKENS COUNTY — Julie Capaldi, president of the United Way of Pickens County, received the Distinguished Service Award from Manufacturers Caring for Pickens County (MCPC) for her work with Camp iRock, a summer reading camp to support struggling readers in Pickens County.
MCPC presented the award at the School District of Pickens County (SDPC) board of trustees meeting on March 26.
“I’m incredibly honored to be recognized for work that I am so passionate about personally,” said Capaldi. “But I share this award with my partners at the school district and the Y because it is truly a collaborative effort.”
A partnership between United Way of Pickens County, SDPC and the Pickens County YMCA, Camp iRock is an innovative and award winning summer camp which helps children improve their reading abilities while having tons of summer camp fun.
In the spring, SDPC identifies rising second, third and fourth graders who could use a boost in their reading abilities and sends their families an invitation to attend Camp iRock.
Starting 2018, the program has been expanded to include rising first graders to be considered for the Camp iRock K5 Booster program.
According to the United Way of Pickens County, in 2017, a total of 469 children were invited to Camp iRock. Of those, 251 pre-registered and 263 attended one or more days of Camp.
The results spoke for themselves: 93 percent of children attending Camp iRock experienced no summer learning loss and either maintained or increased their reading level.
Additionally, 63 percent of campers grew one or more reading level, with an average growth of 1.7 levels. This equates to almost double the typical growth rate, officials said.
But the numbers didn’t stop there. A total of 79 percent of campers maintained or improved their positive demonstration of kindness and supporting others, while 81 percent of campers displayed a positive or improved sense of belonging and feeling loved.
Seventy-eight percent of campers displayed a positive or improved sense of self-worth and hope for the future and 69 percent of campers displayed a positive or improved sense of resiliency and learning from one’s mistakes.
An astounding 100 percent of campers tested improved in at least one of five physical fitness areas: abdominal strength and endurance, exterior trunk strength and endurance, aerobic capacity, upper body strength, and flexibility.
Nearly 80 percent of parents surveyed said they felt more equipped to support their child as a reader and writer.
“The Camp iRock model illustrates how a community can collaborate to improve reading achievement for struggling students,” said a spokesperson for the S.C. Oversight Committee. “The collaboration between the School District of Pickens County, United Way of Pickens County, the local YMCA and Clemson University’s Call Me Mister Program maximizes the resources and assets of the community. The state needs more examples of such collaboration to help struggling learners get back on the path to academic success. Camp iRock is unlocking a child’s ability to learn and read, and thus helping to ensure that one day, they will be graduating college and career ready.”
“Mrs. Capaldi’s tireless work has made a lasting impact on our district, and we are very proud of and grateful to her,” said district officials. “We are also very grateful to MCPC for their efforts to encourage and recognize members of our community who support education.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.