Low-income school districts are finding an unexpected way to improve their students’ attendance and self-confidence at the same time.
And it’s as simple as providing washing machines.
“Over the years, I knew there were many factors that kept kids from getting to school, including that some of them would just stay home if they didn’t have clothes to wear,” Principal Martha Lacy, of David Weir Preparatory Academy in San Francisco, told Today.
Schools in California and Missouri have participated in an experiment through the Whirlpool Care Counts Program.
**For much more, watch the video at the top of this page**
Whirlpool says that teachers around the country estimate that one in five students struggle with access to clean clothes. They say that has an impact on their attendance and experience at school.
David Weir Preparatory Academy takes part in the Whirlpool program. With it, a washer and dryer along with laundry bags, garbage bags, detergent and fabric softener are provided for low-income students.
Students who have missed more than 10 days of school were told they could bring their clothes to school with them. Then, the clothes were washed while the students were in class.
“Many of our students are transient,” teacher Alison Guernsey told Today. “Some are homeless, or they might stay with family members, but they don’t have a stable home or money or resources.”
Officials at David Weir Preparatory Academy said that after the experiment began, they were able to see a difference in the students who participated. They spoke more in class, made more friends and became more outgoing.
During the first year of the Whirlpool program, data said over 90 percent of the participating students had improved attendance, with 6.1 more days in school than the previous year.
On top of that, nearly 95 percent showed increased motivation in class, were more likely to participate in extracurricular activities and had better grades.