Reaching out to the youngsters
Some of the activities being offered to youths in the Garden Hills neighborhood in northwest Champaign, through a $218,000 program jointly funded by the city, park district and school district:
Summer day camp
The program, offered to most residents for free, is for children ages 5 to 11 and is serving 75 children. Children are attending for three three-week sessions between June 9 and Aug. 8, between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
"The camps are going well," said LaEisha Meaderds, teen and day camp coordinator for the park district. "They go swimming twice a week. They've been to the Aerospace Museum in Rantoul. We've had multicultural week where we learn about different cultures, and friendship week, where we get to know each other. We're going to have Van Gogh week where we learn arts and crafts."
Junior camp counselors
For youths between the age of 12 and 15, the junior camp counselors work with the children in the summer day camps. Meaderds said eight youths are serving as camp counselors.
"They have really shown leadership and the ability to work with younger kids," Meaderds said.
Summer Thrills at Garden Hills
Offered every other Thursday evening, usually from 6 to 8 p.m., the park district is offering fun events, like movies and family game night, at Garden Hills Park. The next event will be "Party in the Park" on July 10, featuring CUperStars and DJ Karaoke. July 24 will offer Carnival Game Night; Aug. 7, 3-on-3 Basketball Tourney and 3-Point Shoot Out; and Aug. 21, the Back-To-School Bash.
A recent event had a huge inflatable obstacle course in the park, which proved irresistible to a group of about 20 youngsters.
Targeted toward teens ages 14 to 19, the program this summer has offered job-readiness training, helping teens prepare resumes and train for job interviews; and actual placement in paying jobs. The program has also included "Teens In Action," where teens get together and help plan activities for other teens and themselves. The program is also expected to offer career development and exploration and the opportunity for college visits. Parent workshops will also be a part of the program.
The school district is providing educational programs in Operation Hope, while the park district is providing recreational programs.
Lighted School House
Garden Hills Elementary School will host the program, which will open the school to students, residents and families in the neighborhood between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from September through May. Programs will include offering students assistance in core academic subjects, plus recreational classes and activities in arts, sports, fitness, wellness, music, education classes, how-to classes, self-improvement, health and careers.