By Portia Williams
They played. They competed. They learned. The 25th year for The Counseling Center’s Summer Outreach Program for youth concluded with the traditional closing ceremony on Wednesday. The grand finale is the field trip which was held Thursday at the 14th Street Community Center.
The Summer Outreach Club Program which kicked off on June 1, 2014, is wrapping up another season of recreational, motivational, and education activities for youth during the course of the summer.
Clarence Parker, coordinator of The Counseling Center’s Summer Outreach Program, said the program is vital for local youth.
“It has been a very interesting experience to see the kids that have come through, and to see some of the things that are going on in kids’ lives now. There are a lot of things out there that are vying for kids’ attention. I just think that having this program, and to provide the kinds of opportunities that we do is monumental. When you stop and think about it, we are starting to see a lot more youth programs developing in our community, but for a few years there was a major void as far as youth programs are concerned,” Parker said.
According to Parker, more than 250 registered for the program this year.
“We had 116 kids register on that first day, but by the end of summer we had a grand total of nearly 260 registrations. 158 of those students were 5- to 8-year-olds, and the balance was made of nearly 100 9- to 12-year-olds. Our daily average attendance for the month of June was 119, and for the month of July it was 102,” he said.
He also said their highest daily attendance leveled off at 135.
Strong community support has been contributed factor to the continued success of the long-time program he said.
“The support of the community is overwhelming, and I hope that we will continue to see this as something that is valuable and important and necessary. The drug problem ebbs and flows, and I think that we just have to have something that is steady and consistent as far as giving our kids something positive to build on, which is what I think our program provides, and will continue,” he said.
This year’s schedule of activities included weekly trips to the McKinley Pool, the Southern Ohio Museum, Cirque D’art Performance Studio, The Portsmouth Public Library, a fishing class trip at the Nature Center. Other activities included side walk art, a personal fitness challenge, Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Zumba classes, learning about nutrition, a health fair even, and a visit from Dr. Gosephine Gitome, from Kenya, Africa, a community service project with East Community School’s football team, as well as recreational games.
Awards were distributed at the ceremony to club participants for Most Improved Clubber, Outstanding Attendance, Outstanding Clubber, and Garden Club participation.
Parker thanked the staff for their investment in, and effort toward making it another successful summer of fun and learning for the children.
Portia Williams can be reached at 740-370-0712 or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.