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Children's artwork hangs in the hallways outside a classroom at the Southern Appalachian Labor School's Energy Express program last summer. Applications are now being accepted for the 2020 program, which begins June 22.

BEARDS FORK — The Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS) has again been approved by West Virginia University to host the summer Energy Express program at the SALS Community Center in Beards Fork. According to SALS Director John David, SALS has been an Energy Express site for over 20 years and is the oldest site in Fayette County.

Energy Express is a free six-week summer educational program from June 22 to July 31 for children from kindergarten to sixth grades with free breakfasts and lunches. Transportation is available from the Valley and Plateau areas of Fayette County.

Energy Express is an award-winning West Virginia University Extension Service summer program offered in rural and low-income West Virginia communities. By helping children entering first through sixth grade maintain reading skills, Energy Express helps them overcome the “summer slide” that occurs when youths fall behind academically during the summers in between school years.

Energy Express is a true community program that makes a difference in the lives of everyone who participates — children, staff, volunteers and the community as a whole. The energetic individuals who serve at the site are helping to ensure youth are learning, eating well and having fun in a safe, secure environment during the summer.

There are two opportunities to become part of the SALS Energy Express program. One is to serve as paid mentors and community coordinators. If you are at least 18 years old and college-bound or currently enrolled, you can apply to serve with AmeriCorps. To apply online, go to Energyexpress.wvu.edu and go to “Get involved with Energy Express.” From there, you’ll be able to click and submit the 2020 Energy Express AmeriCorps application. Mentors are paid and can work a second summer job as well.

The second is to send children as participants. All children kindergarten through sixth grade are eligible to attend the free program. Applications are now due and are available at the SALS Community Center in Beards Fork, the SALS Historic School at 140 School Street in Oak Hill, the SALS administrative office on WV 61 in Kincaid; by calling 304-779-2772, 304-779-2280 or 304-250-7627 or contacting Vickie Mullins at vmullinsl@citynet.net.

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