Shreveport camp enriches homeless children during the summer - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Shreveport camp enriches homeless children during the summer

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Children tackle classroom exercises during the morning hours. Children tackle classroom exercises during the morning hours.
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

Statistics show there are more than 10,000 homeless families in the state of Louisiana.

That figure is from the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, which notes that young children make up most of those families.

A Shreveport camp program is hoping to provide a safe place for those children, and others who have no supervision while working parents are gone during the summer while school is out.

Oxford Foster is a 6-year-old who attends that camp and while he packs up and goes to a cozy home every night, his mother says others aren't as fortunate.

"He doesn't understand when other kids say, you know, 'We don't have a home to go to,'" said Teresa Foster. "He asks questions."

Oxford is part of the summer H.E.E.P program - Homeless Education and Enhancement Program. Organizers say 85 percent of the children who attend are homeless.

"Most of the kids come from shelters," said camp director Pittre Walker. "They come from double up, triple up homes, living in cars."

For the past 14 years, Walker has run the program, which has eight locations throughout the area.

The day starts early with academics.

"They got an opportunity to play with the iPads, different educational type things," Walker said. "The families would love to provide those things but they are worried about where they're going to live, the food."

Kids receive a full breakfast and lunch while there and Walker said sometimes that is their only meal.

It's a reality workers are faced with everyday but for Oxford, it's just good fun, whether he's using the computer or just taking in a movie.

"It's just a fun place," he said.

Foster volunteers at the program. She said the experience for her son is invaluable.

"A lot of kids are sheltered and mine's is so when he gets up there and to be around other kids, especially kids that are homeless, it teaches them how to be humble," she said.

Walker said the camp's goal is to help children become successful and productive adults.

The children also go on field trips in the afternoon. The program is run through the Caddo Parish School Board and is free for children that meet the homeless criteria.

It's funded through grants but they are still in need of donations. If you'd like to donate or for more information call Lake Bethlehem Baptist Church at 318-221-1356 or call Walker at 318-470-6845.

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