Champion in Action: School on Wheels of Mass. - NECN

Champion in Action: School on Wheels of Mass.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Champion in Action: School on Wheels of Mass.

    (NECN: Josh Brogadir, Brockton, Mass.) - It's a snowy February night outside Brockton YMCA's youth division, and inside, there is a warm exchange of ideas.

    "Anything times zero is?" asked tutor Cindy Sparks.

    "Zero," said 8-year-old Aydan.

    He and his older brother and sister are homeless once again, when their mother recently was forced to find a new place to live when a landlord decided to sell their home.

    "It is temporary. It's always temporary. You always have setbacks in life, so you just have to take it as a challenge and just keep moving forward," his mother Sarah Haskell said.

    "Say if you have six pieces and you take three, the fraction is going to be I think 6/3, 3/6," Aydan corrected himself.

    Aydan's interest in math is cultivated by his volunteer tutor, Cindy Sparks.

    "We have a good time, we have a good relationship," Cindy said.

    It's made possible through School on Wheels of Massachusetts, a non-profit celebrating its 10th year that supplies learning opportunities, backpacks and school supplies to homeless and formerly homeless children in southeastern Massachusetts.

    The need has never been greater than it is now.

    "The average age of a homeless person in Massachusetts is 8 years old. And people can't believe that when I say that. It's not the average age of a homeless child, it's the average age of a homeless person," said Cheryl Opper, the program's executive director.

    It's a long day for these children. It's well past 7 o'clock at night on a Monday, and still, these tutoring sessions are going strong.

    So is Opper, who is also the program's founder.

    "Really, I think the magic and the secret sauce of School on Wheels is the mentoring. And it's the one on one. It's the same caring adult that shows up every week for them, to let them know that they are important and so is their education," Opper said.

    The success stories are in this room, one of 12 tutoring centers in the area.

    "This could be 1/10," Aydan said.

    He may love fractions, but he's also about 3/4 of an author. His nurturing "co-author" is his tutor, and mentor, Cindy.

    "I just feel that when I first started tutoring with Aydan, I never knew that it was going to be so fulfilling for me and that we would have this great relationship," she said.

    Thursday, School on Wheels of Massachusetts received a $35,000 grant from NECN's partners at Citizens Bank, and will also received volunteer support and a campaign of public service announcements.

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