Summer of Freedom – Final Blog and Slideshow

Written by on September 3, 2014

Summer of Freedom, sponsored by Comcast, encourages Philadelphia residents of all ages to think of their local Free Library of Philadelphia branch when they are looking for fun, free activities this summer! WURD intern Junene Taylor shares her blog posts and photos in this series.

July 22: McPherson Square Branch

“Feeding the Brain and the Body”

The McPherson Square Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia has been called one of the loudest libraries in the city. Located at 601 E. Indiana Ave, McPherson is bright and airy with lots of natural light and plenty of activities for Philly youth to participate in.

July 22, as part of the Comcast Summer of Freedom Free Library of Philadelphia Tour, The Mojo broadcasted live from McPherson and it became immediately clear why McPherson has earned their noisy moniker.

The McPherson branch is a family friendly place evident by the bustling of the people and the many kids who came in to play YU GI OH and hang out in the cool, crisp air. We were lucky enough to speak on air with one of those cool kids.

Local library fan Christian was excited to get on the radio and share his favorite things about the library. He was there bright and early before the doors opened and is on a first name basis with the friendly and outgoing librarians and staff.

“Its like another home for me,” Christian said.

Health and wellness was the main theme for the show that day. Stef Renee had author Sean Jackson on the phone as he spoke about his fitness friendly children’s book Spud the Coach Potato – a book that introduces kids to fun ways of getting up and getting active (listen to the podcast here!). Jackson isn’t the only one encouraging kids to be healthy and well: McPherson Square offers lunch at 11:30 am and snacks at 2:30 pm M-F, and has a playground on the premises for kids to enjoy.

One of the really cool things about this branch is that McPherson is also a Maker site. One project on display is quilted porcelain tiles that are set up on a grid. Each tile was individually designed by a youth and the quilt lights up. You can even send a text message to light up the grid-even each individual tile!

The library isn’t just about books and sustained silent reading anymore. You can do crafts, make jewelry, learn about food hazards and nutrition, watch movies and even do karaoke.

The McPherson Square Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia is a safe zone for children and a place that fosters community, offers connections and resources and embraces diversity.


July 23: West Oak Lane Branch

Today’s Mojo on the go took us to the West Oak Lane branch of The Free Library of Philadelphia. The theme of the day was Going Global: how we can be global citizens and help our youth become the same.

One special guest that is doing her part is author Lisa Manzione whose book series, The Adventures of Bella and Harry, integrate geography and youth. Her latest book, Let’s Visit Maui, takes readers on a fun-filled adventure to the exotic locale, introducing kids to the wonders of diversity and multiculturalism right here in the States.

Stephanie Renée’s conversation ended with Manzione generously offering to send the Bella and Harry series along with school supplies to the West Oak Lane library. Listen to the podcast of Lisa’s interview here, and be sure to look for them when you visit!

To be a thoughtful global citizen, we do need to be aware of the plights affecting our international family but it is also necessary to start at home. Gary Mills is the founder and director of an organization that encourages youth to engage in positivity on the local level. Mills dropped by the show to talk about his non-profit, Shoot Basketballs Not People, a place where kids can engage mind, body and spirit (click here for the podcast).  Visit their website, or contact them at (215)346-7316 for more information.

West Oak Lane Library itself is quaint, cute, and loud (in the greatest way possible.) We were nestled in West Oak Lane’s popular teen books section. Scott from eGadget was there helping people master their devices and faithful 900AM-WURD member and listener, Mrs. Stanback came out to hang with The Mojo.

When you visit this busy branch you will soon realize that learning is not a chore here. Take a brief glance around and you will see interactive story time and hear lots of squeals and giggles. There are movie showings on Wednesdays, Chess Club on Thinking Thursdays, and you can even come in and borrow an iPad on Fridays. While you are here, browse the books, VHS tapes, DVD’s and CD’s they have for sale. Prices range from 25 cents to 2 dollars.

The Comcast Summer of Freedom Free Library of Philadelphia Tour is helping us to get involved and get engaged. I had the delightful opportunity to speak with a woman who is battling breast cancer but didn’t allow that to stop her from coming to the library to hang out. She told me that she was afraid to travel home to Jamaica due to the international issues we have been hearing in the news lately about planes and travel, but she can travel to her local library. Conversations like this, on air and in the community left me with a message of hope.


July 30: Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

On July 30, 2014, The Comcast Summer of Freedom Free Library of Philadelphia Tour made a stop at The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The library can be found in the bustling heart of the city of Philadelphia at 919 Walnut Street and is one of my favorites yet. On sight I fell in love with this charming little branch and was excited that “The MOJO,” hosted by Stef Renee, had the chance to broadcast live from there.

This branch is particularly special because it caters to those book lovers, young and old who need large print books, descriptive videos, and Braille books and magazines. Registered borrowers can even have their materials mailed to them for free courtesy of the United States Postal Service.

On the day we were there, special guest Louise James – activist and sister of MOVE founder John Africa – stopped by to share some of her story and wisdom. We also had the chance to meet and speak with an abundance of long term WURD members who came out to help us kickoff the celebration of Walter P. Lomax, Jr., M.D.’s legacy.

This stop was one of my favorites because the listeners were some of our most engaged yet – happily chatting with each other, and offering to sit with Stef and share their stories of Dr. Lomax, how they first discovered WURD and how much our work in the community has impacted their lives over the years.

Those eligible for the services provided by The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped must have a visual disability, physical disability or reading disability. One thing to note is that the books that are available on cassette require a special cassette player that is available at the library and can also be mailed for free courtesy of USPS.

Coming up at this branch: Friday, September 5, 2014 at 10:00AM, children aged 8-12 can end the summer in a fun way by participating in a Block Printing Workshop. Participants can create a visual image representing what summer means to them using stamps, stencils paint and more. To reserve your spot, contact Nicole Oidick at 215-568-2115 x4 or noidick@art-reach.org.


 August 29: Finale – Central Branch

The Big Finale!

 So, on Friday, August 29, 2014 The Mojo ended the Summer of Freedom Tour with a big bang at my favorite library – the Central Branch at 1901 Vine Street. We were in the Skyline room and it was our biggest turnout yet.

We had so many awesome WURD listeners come out and donate back-to-school supplies for our drive; which is a great partnership  900AM-WURD has with  Global Citizen 365, the SchoolDistrict of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Uber. Remember — we are collecting donations until Sept. 7 all around the city so if you missed us on Friday, you still have time to donate!

A few of the lucky participants in our finale event had the chance to win their own back-to-school supplies in a Grand Prize backpack that included a netbook! Consider me jealous, because who doesn’t want to win a netbook?!

I had the great pleasure of greeting our WURD listeners at the marketing table and handing out station info and bumper stickers to the many kids who were present. I told them they were just regular stickers which made them very happy to leave with a prize of their own if they didn’t win inside the Skyline Room.

The Summer of Freedom Tour was a first-time but hopefully not last time-event for me and I am grateful I had the chance to take part. I learned a lot about the programs that the Free Library of Philadelphia has to offer, signed up for my first library card in over a decade, and borrowed some incredible books. I strongly suggest that everyone stop by the library this fall and check out the many after school events and weekend activities the Free Library has to offer.

As for me, I am now in the process of trying to get my mom signed up for a library card so we can visit Central Branch together. Wish me luck!


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