Children, more often than not, will model their thoughts, feelings, attitudes, morals, goals, etc. after that of their parents or close family members. While it is certainly not impossible or improbable to deviate from the ways of one’s parents, a child learns essentially everything they know from the environment in which they grow up. Children take cues from their surroundings and apply them to their life to gradually develop their own personality and individuality. But in any case, this will be some reflection of the way in which they were raised. They will follow a life path that is dictated largely by their upbringing. Children will more likely to be successful if they have a “better-off” family life. It stands to reason that children with parents who are more successful socially and economically will be better off than the opposite scenario. This does not negate the importance of government intervention programs, but rather proves the need for programs such as “The Fresh Air Program”.
“I would argue that the Fresh Air narrative (re)scripts whiteness such that it becomes a solution to, rather than a manifestation and source of social inequalities” (Vanderbeck 1147). This passage is an important consideration for those in support of the counter argument for government programs. Now this is not to suggest that a summer program is a cure-all for socioeconomic inequalities. Fresh Air Program, and any other similar programs are certainly not THE solution for inequality between lower class and middle class children. Middle class children will always have an advantage in that they have more resources to achieve social and financial success later in life. This goes along with the point that I made earlier. A child’s social, financial, and professional trajectory will be largely dependent on the background of the child’s parents. So while government programs that take lower income kids out of the city and out of their neighborhood is the ultimate solution, it is a solution that can contribute to kids in the inner city having goals and aspirations of social mobility that they may not have had otherwise.
For Fresh Air to have the aforementioned effect, and make the difference that it intends, it is extremely important that they are not discriminatory. Early in the program, Guerneri mentions the Fresh Air fund was limiting in the children that were accepted to the program. “By excluding homeless and beggar children, the fund helped ensure that hosts would not have to deal with guests who stole, lied, or otherwise grossly misbehaved.” (Guerneri 43). Granted, this was in the 20’s and the country was much less progressive as a whole. However, it is important to consider that while exclusion may not be explicit, all lower income children should have an opportunity to participate in the program. Perhaps children with a background of deviance and criminal behavior should not be accepted, but otherwise, it is important to promote an equal opportunity across neighborhoods. Guerneri is describing an excluded group who perhaps needed this intervention program more than anyone. While exclusion today would look much different, and would not be as explicit, it is important for outreach to these programs to extend to as many low-income groups as possible.
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