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Local Foster Children Get 'Stellar' Experience

By: Department of Children and Families; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Department of Children and Families; Lanetra Bennett Email
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Tallahassee, FL -

The stars aligned perfectly Thursday for a group of foster children.

Fourteen kids in foster care from Leon, Wakulla, and Jackson counties participated in a science and space themed camp at the Challenger Learning Center in Tallahassee.

Chelsea Bundschuh, the marking director at the Challenger Learning Center, says, "I think these kids have been through a lot. This is really something fun, something out of the ordinary that they don't normally get to do, and really just kind of make them feel special."

The kindergarten through eighth graders got to see the state-of-the-art planetarium shows and 3D IMAX movies.

Campers also simulated space missions that teach about life in space.

The camp was designed to promote enthusiasm in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM.)

You may not be able tell that enthusiasm from six-year-old Jessie, but, it's there. All he would say is, "I'm having fun."

Global telecommunications company, CenturyLink teamed up with the Department of Children and Families and Florida's Foundation to sponsor the outing.

They were there for one day only; but, the experience was out of this world.

The camp was part of DCF's "Camps for Champions" initiative for hundreds of children in foster care statewide.


TALLAHASSEE – Fourteen children in foster care from Jackson, Leon and Wakulla counties were treated today to an out-of-this-world learning experience. Global telecommunications company CenturyLink teamed up with the Department of Children and Families and Florida’s Foundation to sponsor a daylong camp for K-8 grade students. The camp was designed to promote enthusiasm in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at the Challenger Learning Center. The camp included aerospace-themed activities to foster an interest in math and science, simulated space missions that teach about life in space and encourage team-building and state-of-the-art planetarium shows and 3D IMAX movies.

For the second time this year, CenturyLink provided a fun and educational STEM experience for local foster children through the Department’s “Camps for Champions” initiative. The camp is one of more than a dozen of statewide Camps for Champions (www.campsforchampions.com) providing year-round camp experiences for hundreds of children in foster care. In March, CenturyLink sponsored a multi-day technology camp for 20 foster
teens during spring break.

“Communities all across Florida have stepped up to give our children camp experiences just like any other youth,” said Suzanne Vitale, Deputy Secretary for the Department of Children and Families. “The opportunities provided by CenturyLink encourage these children to reach for the stars.”

CenturyLink supports local communities it serves through philanthropic efforts focused on K-12 education and youth programs, as well as technology-focused initiatives. CenturyLink twice this year put that commitment into practice for our area’s abused and neglected children, helping to create promising futures for our children in foster care.

The projected growth for STEM careers is 17 percent, compared to less than 10 percent in other professions. STEM careers earn an average of 26 percent more than other fields. However, current predictions indicate that the current number of graduates with STEM degrees will not keep up with demand for STEM careers.

“The CenturyLink STEM camp helps inspire and excite children in our
community about science and technology,” said CenturyLink’s Market
Development Manager Carmen Butler. “We are pleased to be able to partner with the Department of Children and Families and Florida's Foundation to give these children an innovative educational experience.”

In addition to the camp experience, gift cards provided to each foster
family to help them enjoy some much deserved “me time” while the kids were busy at camp. Each child received an age-appropriate tablet they can use at home to learn STEM fields using high-tech educational games and applications and interactive reading.

CenturyLink is a valued DCF “Partner for Promise.” Since January, the
“Partners for Promise” initiative has recognized more than 1,550 Florida businesses that donate their time, talent and resources to enrich the lives of people in their communities. For more information, please visit www.flpartnersforpromise.com.


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