Community enrichment stems from summer youth program
MONTGOMERY – A summer wrap-up for Montgomery’s summer youth recreation program, Summer Alive, was held on Tuesday, August 4th. At the meeting a review of the program produced some plans to make the program even more successful for next year. “There were many groups that gave support this year to Summer Alive,” said Chair, Pastor Viking Dietrich. “We hope to create our own governing board, name a director and contract cooks for next year,” he added.
A planning meeting has already been scheduled and is set for Tuesday, September 22nd at the Montgomery Borough office starting at 6 p.m.. “We hope to deepen our commitments to create a summer program for youth in Montgomery, and emphasize the goal of creating a community based enrichment program.”
“We want to give the community a positive image and build personal commitments within today’s and tomorrow’s generation,” added Pastor Dietrich.
Targeted for grades pre-K through 8th, the summer rec program offered diverse activities throughout the six week period with a focus on reusable resources, outdoor play and nutrition. The program was open to all residents of the Montgomery community.
One of the highlights was a community garden that they built and will soon be bountiful with cherry heirloom tomatoes, kale, beans, carrots and more. The children also enjoyed some hands-on crafts and activities like tie dying tee shirts, weaving, preparing fresh foods, making solar ovens, and painting decorative slates.
A gift of books from the Montgomery library allowed for a book to be given to each child, and some 3D art from home made paper will soon become a permanent exhibit in Montgomery Park near the garden.
The working committee felt that the food was of good quality using local produce to help save money. Four raised beds were established and lessons given to the youth on composting, worm bins and plant identification.
However, there were a few challenges which can be overcome for next year according to the Pastor. Some of the scheduled presenters cancelled and playground time on Wednesdays was cancelled three times because of wet ground.
Altogether 14 families were registered with hopes that more will register next year. Many were within walking distance to the park and up to 23 children participated at any given time with 11 being the lowest. “We usually averaged about 15 kids a day,” said Tina Tickle, one of the main organizers and adult volunteers.
Providing the nutritious lunches was just one component of the program. The real thrust comes with the enrichment activities and having access to them within the community and to keep this summer program running to benefit future generations.
More volunteers in the future will be very helpful along with some extra leadership especially for the games and sports. Cooking the food was time consuming and some extra help there would also be greatly appreciated for next year.
Also in the plans for the following year is a Facebook page and a website for the program hoping to recruit more youth and adult volunteers. Also needed are more plans for indoor activities and introducing more activities such as yoga, puppets, making birdhouses, and more cooking.
“A big step was taken this first summer,” added Pastor Dietrich, “and there is still a lot of good will in the community toward the program. The children enjoyed the time, and the parents were satisfied.”