A Super Summer in Baltimore

The Star-Spangled Banner flies over Fort McHenry

Originally posted in The Rawlings-Blake Review #208

As we celebrate our nation’s independence this 4th of July weekend, we should also take time to honor Baltimore’s rich and vibrant history. Two hundred years ago, our city bravely defended this great nation from invading British forces. The defense of our home and the birth of our national anthem are truly remarkable stories—and serious points of pride for the people of Baltimore.

This summer, we will continue our multi-year celebration, culminating in September with the Star-Spangled Spectacular—an amazing 200th birthday bash for our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. Just this week, I declared Red, White, and Blue Mondays. I am encouraging everyone who lives and works in Baltimore City to dress in patriotic colors each Monday throughout the summer to commemorate this historical milestone. But this celebration is just one of the things that will make this a truly super summer in Baltimore!

Our innovative Baltimore City Super Summer program brings agencies and non-governmental partners together to implement a comprehensive strategy to provide resources and improve outcomes for our city’s youth. We want to make sure that, even though school is out, kids still receive the academic, health, and nutritional support that they need.

It is proven that children who stop reading throughout the summer months lose ground academically. So this summer, I am partnering with the Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading to challenge all children in Baltimore City to read for at least 15 minutes each day this summer. Additionally, Enoch Pratt Free Library offers a summer reading program and kids who participate earn prizes for their reading.

Daily reading helps children become stronger, more confident readers, and it helps them maintain the skills they learned during the school year. So head to your nearest library and start reading! Kids and families can get tips on family reading, helpful information, and resources such as the Library log at bmoresupersummer.org/read15.

Our libraries are great options for our families to stay cool and beat the heat this summer. On Wednesday, Baltimore experienced its first Code Red Heat Alert day of the summer. Over the past few years, Baltimore has experienced some pretty extreme summer temperatures. Weather like this can pose a serious health risk and severely increase the cost of maintaining a safe and comfortable environment within the home.

To make sure that Baltimore’s families remain safe on these dangerously hot days, we opened a number of cooling centers across the city. We also helped kick off Energy Assistance Week—a partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Human Services’ Community Action Partnership, BGE, and the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) to provide assistance to families struggling to pay their utility bills and help make energy costs more affordable across the board.

This week, more than 2,000 Baltimore City residents attended this multi-day event at Morgan State University. This program plays a vital role in helping low-income families across Baltimore survive these hot and humid summer months. Individuals and families unable to receive service during this week’s expo can seek assistance at any of the five Baltimore City Community Action Centers, as well as the Office of Home Energy Programs located at 2700 N. Charles Street.

Stay safe and cool this summer, and I wish you a very happy 4th of July!

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