Students at Future School of Fort Smith have started an opportunity gap task force to find ways to address inequity in the area.
Lee Kemp, a pastor at Forefront Church in Fort Smith, has worked with the students in organizing the task force, which had its first luncheon Monday with several community partners.
Kemp explained that there are achievement gaps among certain demographics, such as people who live in poverty compared to people who do not live in poverty.
"We felt a better way of coining that is an opportunity gap. We think everybody has the same possibility of achievement if they have the right opportunities," he said.
The idea is for students, along with community partners, to look for ways they can help.
"Our plans are to get community partners to give us feedback about things we can address and help kids have an opportunity to have just as much achievement as those who have been provided many, many opportunities," Kemp said.
Student Annie Phavong said about 12-15 students have had weekly meetings where they have discussed inequity and where they see it in Fort Smith. She and student Ashley Chanmanivong said the students did an exercise where they all stood on one side of the gym and took a step forward every time a factor that indicated privilege, such as having two parents who are married or not having to worry about not having enough food, applied to them. When they were finished, students were scattered all over the gym.
"We had people that were still standing back at line, and then people that were over here at the wall — just here at the school," Phavong said.
The students said they talked about possible ways they could help address inequity. They discussed how some children's parents can afford tutors, while others cannot, so maybe Future School students could tutor younger children whose parents cannot afford a tutor.
The mission statement of the task force is "addressing the inequity of opportunities while promoting respect and unity."