Block Party brings services to community

In the book The Obstacle is the Way, author Ryan Holiday shares a zen story about a king who made several observations about those in his kingdom.

The king noticed that the people were becoming unappreciative of their liberties. He wanted to teach the people a lesson and decided to place an enormous boulder between the main road and the entrance to the city. How would the people respond? Would they devise a plan? Would they work together? Would they become disgruntled and frustrated? The majority chose the latter as they approached this large obstacle.

They bemoaned their state and wondered why this obstacle existed. In fact, they never attempted to remove the boulder and simply walked away returning to their homes. Finally, there was a gentleman who also approached this mammoth rock. He tried futilely to push the behemoth but to no avail. Rather than walk away this fellow noticed a wooded area near the main road. He had an idea to use branches of wood to create a lever. Once lodged between the ground and the rock he eventually was able to remove the boulder from blocking the road. Beneath the rock was a pot of gold and a note from the king which read, the obstacle in the path becomes the path.

School District Five, like every public school system across our country, faces a tremendous challenge in relation to out-of-school time. We have students in our care essentially from 8 am until 3 pm It is the time after normal school hours that traditionally have not been under our control. Depending on the community in which students live and resources that are available after school engagements may be limited or even non-existent. This creates an obstacle between the community and schools.

Our district has decided to follow the axiom outlined by the old Zen King, the obstacle in the path becomes the path. Rather than bemoan this challenge and turn a blind eye we recognize the opportunity that exists. Through community support and district partnership, the Office of Community Support Services was created, recommended and approved with a primary focus designed to provide wraparound services on site to our most vulnerable neighborhoods.

The Office of Community Support Services held its first-ever Block Party at Harbison Gardens neighborhood and it was epic. The energy was joyous, the Kona Ice was refreshing, the music by Big Tyme Entertainment was groovy and the Chick-fil-A sandwiches were tasty. We had the presence of several community services that included: Healthy Learners, Healthy Connections Medicaid, United Way, Absolute Total Care, Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission, The Richland County Public Library as well as School District Five service providers and after-school programs.

Families were able to learn more about services designed to support them and many took advantage by signing up to learn more information. The vendors were elated as they made connections with families that were not familiar with their organizations. Throughout the evening of the block party there was a sentiment, expressed by multiple families, that “the school district cares about us” and “this has the chance to make our neighborhood better.”

We believe when we improve a single neighborhood an entire community will reap the benefits. We also believe transformational opportunities matter and when families are provided opportunities and access the potential for every is maximized. Loving and growing communities matter.

Julius B. Scott

Lexington-Richland School District Five

Office of Community Support Services