MAYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- It's a refreshing site, kids learning and playing together after 18 months indoors. Wilma Franco says her biggest concern as a parent during the pandemic has been the lack of social interaction.
"Both of my boys usually do sports after school...they have different clubs that they attend. Swimming classes, all of that was no longer available to them so I could definitely see the impact to their mental health, not wanting to leave the house anymore, not wanting to interact with folks," said Franco, a single mother of two.
That's why the Los Angeles Education Recovery Fund was launched, which has raised over $7 million putting on summer camps, including at the Maywood YMCA. That location stopped offering summer camp three years ago because of a shortage of funding.
It's a community extremely hard hit by the pandemic, where 24% of the population is at or below the poverty line.
"In a resource-deficit community like the southeast in Maywood, parents are barely making it and some of our parents actually still haven't recovered from the pandemic and getting jobs," said Juan De La Cruz, Senior Vice President of Community Development for the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles.
So this summer camp - which also has the feel of summer school with reading, math and a trip to a science center as part of the curriculum - allows parents to get back to work or look for jobs while their kids are in a safe place with other kids.
The recovery fund isn't just funding the summer camp in Maywood. They're financing 500 camps around L.A., serving 40,000 kids.
"Kids are meant to be working with each other, experiencing things, creativity, joy, connection with their peers, working in art, creating projects. That's what kids do. That's how kids thrive and grow," said Marshall Tuck, head of the L.A. Education Recovery Fund.
Franco says her youngest son has come from the camp happy that he was able to play soccer with his friends.
"I definitely see a lot of happiness from him instead of just kind of isolated," she said.