Three Nashville public schools will soon give students and parents without a regular way to do laundry a chance to wash and dry their clothes at school.
Washing machines and dryers will be available to use for free at Inglewood Elementary School, Gra-Mar Middle School and John B. Whitsitt Elementary School.
The schools are participating in a program by appliance company Whirlpool that aims to boost attendance and kids' performance by making laundry services available at school. The company donates the washers and dryers to local schools. About one in five kids struggle with access to clean clothes, which can become a barrier to school attendance, with children too embarrassed or discouraged to attend wearing dirty clothes. That impacts their academic performance and self-esteem.
Nashville school officials said they hope having clean clothes is one less barrier to attendance for kids who may already have a lot to handle at home and school.
“With the addition of the Whirlpool washer and dryer here at Whitsitt, we are expecting to see improvements in our student attendance rate and a boosted level of confidence for our students who may not have the option of wearing a different set of clean clothes each day of the week," said Justin Uppinghouse, principal of John B. Whitsitt Elementary School.
"In receiving the generous donation of these machines, Whitsitt is able to further support its students in keeping them in a clean set of clothing every day, giving them one less stressor to worry about at an already challenging stage of life.”
In its first year, Whirlpool's Care Counts Program was piloted in two school districts, where donated laundry machines churned out about 2,000 loads of laundry.
The results: Over 90 percent of kids tracked in the program improved their attendance at school. Teachers reported that kids in the program showed increased motivation in class, were more likely to participate in extracurricular activities and got good grades.
"It's incredible to see how the simple act of laundry can have such a profound impact on students' lives and we are excited to bring this resource to even more schools across the country," Chelsey Lindstron, brand manager at Whirlpool, said in a news release.
This year, the company has expanded its program to 20 additional schools, including the three in Nashville.
The washers and dryers will be available as soon as Sept. 9, according to Ameerah Palacios, a district spokeswoman.
Reach Anita Wadhwani at 615-259-8092 and on Twitter @AnitaWadhwani.
Students in need
About 75 percent of Metro Nashville Public Schools students can be classified as economically disadvantaged, according to Tennessee’s Report Card.
100: The percentage of Metro students offered free and reduced lunch across the district.
94: The average percentage of students at Gra-Mar, Whitsitt and Inglewood considered economically disadvantaged.
23: The average number of students absent on a daily basis at each of the three schools.