Local programs keep kids busy during break

Learning, play offered in summer activities
Jul. 08, 2014 @ 07:02 PM

According to Chinese legend, Pan Gu, one of the first people on earth, stretched the sky and the earth apart with his arms and legs for 1,800 years until he died of exhaustion from the hard work of keeping the two separated.

More than 30 children sat attentively in the Lee County Library’s McIver Auditorium on Tuesday afternoon, as attentively as first-, second- and third-graders can, enraptured by the story told by Guan Wang Wang of the Central Carolina Community College Confucius Classroom.

With classrooms and backpacks and homework still far from their minds, Lee County children and parents may find themselves with an open schedule. The library is one of several organizations in Lee County offering summer youth programs to help children stay healthy and educated while school is out.

Wang’s visit Tuesday was part of the summer’s theme of “Fizz, Boom, Read!,” pushing kids to scientific reading amid summer fun, said Delisa Williams, a member of the Youth Services staff at the library.

“We encourage reading,” Williams said. “They go out and go on summer vacations and have fun, but we want reading to be a very big part of their summer. We also encourage them to use the library regularly.”

The Coalition for Families in Lee County also is offering a summer reading program, scheduled from 10-11:30 a.m. each Tuesday through the end of July at the Lee County Community Arts Center — 507 N. Steele St. in Sanford.

Parents as Teachers, a national organization helping to equip parents to be their child’s “first teacher,” is sponsoring the program. Heather Garrity, a program manager for the Coalition for Families, said the main focus is helping develop literacy in kids before they enter kindergarten.

“[We’re] just trying to put a big emphasis on literacy and [trying] to make it fun at the same time,” Garrity said. “You want to have the child exposed to reading and have a love for reading before they enter school. That way it just becomes natural to them.”

Other organizations like Lee County Parks & Recreation and the YMCA also have seasonal programs available for youth.

The LCPR is providing swimming lessons for all age groups at O.T. Sloan Pool, as well as different athletics programs for kids. Registration opens July 14 for youth volleyball starting in September, while youth football and basketball play is ongoing.

“Recreation is important to every human being on the planet earth,” said Ben Lucas, an athletic supervisor for the LCPR. “We offer recreational activities for the community — that’s what a Parks & Recreation department is for. It’s to benefit the kids and the adults. Recreation is part of having a healthy lifestyle.”

The Lee County YMCA is hosting a summer day camp for rising kindergarteners through rising ninth-graders. The kids are split into two groups: Camp Voyager for rising kindergarteners to fifth-graders and Camp Three for rising sixth-to-ninth graders.

Now in its fourth week, each camp encourages kids to grow in the five character traits the YMCA encourages — caring, respect, responsibility, faith in God and sportsmanship.

“[The camp] is a great way to develop leadership in young kids,” said Jamie Roberts, the Lee County YMCA director of admin and communications. “It gives them a safe place to go during the summer where they can have fun and be productive. The YMCA is all abut building kids and families spiritually and helping them in the community. We think the summer camp really does that for kids.”

Participants go swimming three days a week. Each week is themed and activities relate to the theme. For instance, next week will be College Week for Camp Three participants, who will visit colleges in the area.

Each of the organizations putting on a summer program is seeking to help the Lee County community, particularly kids, continue their education, whether it be reading or sports-related, during the summer.

For information on these programs, visit their respective websites or call contact people. For the Lee County Library reading program, call Williams at (919) 718-4665 ext. 5484 or Sheneeta Thomas at ext. 5485. For the Coalition for Families in Lee County summer reading program, contact Garrity at (919) 774-8144 ext. 204 or hgarritycoalition@windstream.net. To register for the Lee County YMCA summer camp, visit its office at 860 Spring Lane visit its website at www.ymcatriangle.org/lee-county-ymca. The LCPR can be reached at (919) 775-2107.