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Ryan Davis brings great experience to Children International by Rachel Wright

Submitted by Lela-Tamara Fluker on October 21, 2015 – 3:51 pmNo Comment

The new director of the Children International University of Arkansas at Little Rock partnership, Ryan Davis, works with Children International and other organizations around Little Rock to alleviate poverty among children.

“The whole scope of what Children International does has been expanded. We are kind of in a bit of a transition right now. Whereas the goal before was to alleviate poverty, the goal now is to have all children free from poverty,” Davis said.

Children International works with five partner schools in the Little Rock School District:  Bale, Franklin, Stephens, Wakefield and Wilson schools. This serves about 3,200 students in Central Arkansas between the ages of 12 and 18-years-old. This makes them the largest children and youth service individual agency in Central Arkansas. The goals of the program are that students graduate healthy, educated, empowered and employable. Students are wanted to exhibit healthy behaviors and make use of the health services provided. Davis feels the most important goal for the students to achieve is a sense of empowerment  because no matter what direction students choose to go in life they will have a stake in the community.

The Children International sponsorship organization at UALR is the only one in the United States out of two dozen worldwide. “The university kind of jumped at the opportunity to be a part of Children International,” said Davis, “we are unique among Children International agencies in that the students here have multiple sponsors.”

The partnership between the Children International office and UALR is vital according to Davis. They partnered with the TRIO program at UALR to prepare students for college. They also partnered with the Intensive English Learners program to offer English Language classes to non-English speaking families.

“We have a program that we’ve partnered with Children’s Hospital and we’ve also partnered with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation called Cooking Matters,” Davis said.

He said Arkansas has a distinction for being the state with the most food insecurities among children, but also most obese. The class gives families an opportunity to learn how to cook healthy food on a realistic budget, as well as bond around a cooking experience.

Children International are also hosting a Know Your Rights workshop and dinner on Nov. 5. The landlord/tenant clinic at the UALR Bowen School of Law will answer questions about rights as a tenant.

“More than 80% of the families we work with are renters, so this is hopefully valuable information for them.” Davis said.  Attorneys from Arkansas will also be talking about record expunging, as well as a variety of legal issues for families.

Also, on Dec. 5 Children International will host  Winter Fest, a winter holiday celebration as well as a coat distribution.

“We are moving away from material benefits to child and youth development, which to me is a positive development, but we do also understand emergency food assistance is something we should maintain. The distribution of coats to children who may not have them is something we will maintain,” Davis said.


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