Schools Are Now Doing Laundry For Students Without Access…And It’s Helping Things

When student attendance at school slips, it is generally attributed to a handful of issues including illness, bullying, academic difficulty, and sometimes because students need to take care of younger siblings while their parents work. Rarely do people mention low attendance and dirty laundry in the same sentence. But a recent initiative started by former St. Louis Principal Dr. Melody Gunn introduced washing machines into schools and the effect has been surprisingly profound.

When Gunn was principal, she discovered during home visits that many of her students’ parents had to do laundry at a laundromat or neighbor’s house. She also learned that if the parents had any issues arranging a time to do laundry or ran out of detergent that week, students were often left with dirty clothes. This discovery prompted Dr. Gunn to approach the appliance company, Whirlpool, who then did their own research and found that as many as 1 in 5 students struggle with access to clean clothes.

Having clean laundry is something the vast majority of us take for granted. As an adolescent, it can be overwhelmingly difficult to go to school without clean clothes. One student told Whirlpool, “When I wake up in the morning and I find out I have no clean clothes, I usually end up just staying home.”

So with the help of Dr. Gunn and Whirlpool, a program called Care Counts was launched. Whirlpool donated 17 pairs of washers and dryers to districts in St. Louis and Fairfield, California, and the results of their donation are plainly obvious. After installing the washers and dryers, Whirlpool found that more than 90 percent of students had increased attendance, and 95 percent of students had more motivation in class. At-risk youths reported almost two additional weeks of attendance in school.

Whirlpool leaves it up to each school to organize their programs. For the upcoming school year, they are expanding to five new school districts across the country. And though Dr. Dunn is thrilled with the success of the district and Whirlpool’s partnerships, she hopes to expand beyond laundry for the sake of her students. Next on her mission is providing students with fresh, healthy food.

(Via Fox)