DALLAS - Seven-year-old Brandi Manuel loves to draw, especially pictures of her old home in Mexico.

Brandi and dozens of her friends attend the Heart House after-school program every day. the program is held at their apartment complex, the Wildflower in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood in Dallas. One of its biggest goals is to keep the kids safe.

Lea Beach, a longtime Dallas Independent School District principal, said most of the students are from immigrant families and still learning the culture.

It's easy at home to say, 'Did you do your homework?' Beach said. When you do not read English or you may not even read whatever language the homework is brought home in, you can't help. And you can see there may be squiggles on the page, but you don't know what they wrote. Someone here checks all that and it makes a difference.

In addition to tutoring and snacks, the Heart House also brings in outside people to help the kids do interesting and fun things, like going to the Museum of Nature and Science.

In many of those cases, they have never seen a real eyeball except in someone's eye, Beach said. It's just that piece, that ability to touch reality.


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