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After-school program seeks solutions for struggling homeless students

The program helps children falling behind in class while also giving them a safe place to play and eat with their peers.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Champion House of Care has launched a new after-school program in Sugar Creek to seek solutions for homeless students who are struggling in class. 

The organization hosted a camp for more than 50 homeless students over the summer. That's when founder Janette Kinard saw the need to continue their work as an after-school program when the school year started. 

"Most of the kids, during the summer, we found out the fifth graders were on first grade [reading] level," Kinard explained. 

The Champion Village after-school program is held at the Derita Presbyterian Church in Sugar Creek for homeless and impoverished children. They do their homework and work on skills like reading and math. 

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"They're not doing well in school because when they get home, they don’t have the materials to do their homework with," Kinard said. 

Last school year, there were nearly 23,000 homeless students registered in North Carolina public schools; 18% lived in hotels. 

WCNC Charlotte spoke with a mother of four whose children are in the program. 

"It's pretty hard, it literally is, I juggle a lot," Larre shared. The family currently lives in a Sugar Creek motel. 

Larre shared it's hard for her to find a job because two of her children aren't school-aged yet. Enrolling her children in the after-school program not only helps their education, but helps Larre juggle a little bit less for a few hours each day.  

Plus, Kinard said the program offers children more than just a chance to learn.

"They know they get to come be a child, they get to get out of the hotel room," Kinard said. "Even after their homework, they get to come outside and play for a while."  

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Students also get a fresh meal so they can focus on school instead of survival. 

"They could be the next president, the next doctor, whatever, but we gotta give them that fighting chance," Kinard said.

The program runs from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Kinard is looking for more tutors and sponsors to help keep the program running. Students can still sign up for help.

People interested can email champion10@chocprojectone.org and donations are collected on CHOC's website. 

Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookX and Instagram 

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com. 

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