Every Friday children from Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet School walk a few blocks to Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site to participate in after-school enrichment activities. Park staff and volunteers provide and facilitate reading programs, art projects, outdoor activities, and curriculum based programs.
On April 20, third graders arrived and were met by Kansas First Lady Mary Brownback. Mrs. Brownback visited with the children and read Of Thee I Sing, a children's book written by President Barack Obama.
The students are participants in an afterschool program called Families Empowered by Additional Teaching of Students (FEATS). FEATS targets children at low-performing schools living in poverty. Over 85% of the children attending Williams receive free and low cost lunches and nearly half those students are reading below state standards.
Jointly administered by the Williams School and the YWCA, FEATS focuses on providing healthy snacks, exercise, literacy, and educational enrichment programs. The program has been very well received by students, school social workers, and park staff.
"Having the first lady read to these children about the role of civil rights in their lives will be something that they will never forget," said park Superintendent David Smith. "She generously shared her time to help enrich their minds and share stories about people - just like these kids - who had the courage to stand up for what was right and help change the world. What better place to have this discussion than at the park where a few committed parents helped rock the very foundation of our country's educational system."