Kanawha and Fayette County teenagers are currently involved in a four-week summer health program which emphasizes academics, teamwork, recreation and leadership.
And it's free, thanks to the efforts of organizations interested in the health and well-being of the local youngsters.
The Summer Health Institute is geared toward students 13 to 16 years of age in the Herbert Hoover High and Elkview Middle region (Elk River Valley) and Riverside High and Valley K-8 School (Upper Kanawha Valley). It will run through July and into early August. Camp is from Monday to Thursday each week.
Monty Warner, CEO and president of YMCA of Kanawha Valley, says a variety of groups has teamed up to make the institute possible.
"It's a large consortium of groups that pulled together to give these kids a summer camp experience," said Warner.
In the first week, nearly 40 students participated. "As they get out and tell their friends about it, more kids are coming every day," Warner said. "We hope to have it built up to 100 kids by the end."
The summer institute is being presented by the following:
• Cabin Creek Health Systems;
• Morris Creek Watershed Association;
• Kanawha County Schools;
• Kanawha County Parks and Recreation;
• WVU Extension Service;
• WVU School of Public Health;
• BridgeValley Community College;
• Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation;
• YMCA of Kanawha Valley; and
Bus pickup and drop-off assembly points in the UKV region include:
• 315 3rd Avenue, Glasgow, 8:30 a.m. pickup and 4:30 p.m. drop-off;
• 1 Samuel Lane, Hughes Creek, 8:35 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.;
• Ronda Bridge, Cabin Creek, 8:52 a.m. and 4:13 p.m.;
• 4933 Cabin Creek Rd., 8:54 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.;
• 187 Dry Branch Drive, 9:15 a.m. and 3:53 p.m.;
• East Bank Middle School, 9:31 a.m. and 3:32 p.m.;
• Crown Hill Apts. (at Rte. 61), 9:36 a.m. and 3:26 p.m.;
• Upper Patch and Paint Creek Road, 9:43 a.m. and 3:17 p.m.;
• Middle Patch Road and Volewood Lane, 9:45 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.;
• Pratt Elementary, 9:51 a.m. and 3:08 p.m.;
• Upper Drive and Second Avenue, 9:57 a.m. and 3:02 p.m.; and
• BridgeValley and YMCA (drop-off), 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
There are also meeting points in the Clendenin and Charleston area.
The camp's first day on July 8 included projects at BridgeValley with the GRID, Warner said. The second day featured activities centered at the Morris Creek Watershed Association.
"Every day is a different academic experience," Warner said. "Afternoons are pretty much athletics and recreation and sports.
"We always try to end up in the pool at the end of the afternoon."
Kanawha County Schools provides transportation, lunch at 12:30 p.m. and a snack at 3 p.m.
Counselors are YMCA employees, Warner said.
Warner says the camps should be beneficial, especially to those in the Montgomery area. "It's hard to get a whole community together (because of being located on the Kanawha-Fayette county line)," he said. "This kind of things breaks down those barriers."
Elementary school students are able to participate in numerous after-school and day care situations, with federal funding to support them, Warner noted. "When they get to middle school is when we start losing kids," he explained. "The kids don't make the ball team, they're not in the band or they don't have transportation to be involved; that's where we start losing kids.
"We're making a concerted effort with Cabin Creek to focus on 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds, seeing if we can move the bubble and make the difference."
Children coming for the first time will receive an application packet to take home to be signed and returned the next day to be enrolled in the SHI.
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Warner says funding from West Virginia University will allow the Upper Kanawha Valley YMCA to continue its lease in Montgomery through the end of September, and the YMCA is on the agenda of the WVU Board of Governors later this year to seek to extend that at least through the end of 2019.
For more on other YMCA programs, see future issues of The Montgomery Herald, or find the UKV YMCA on Facebook.
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