The 27th year of The Counseling Center’s Summer Outreach Club will kick off Monday, June 6, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the 14th Street Community Center in Portsmouth. Clarence Parker, coordinator of Outreach, is retiring after 26 years of overseeing the program.
Parker has worked as the Prevention Program Director of The Counseling Center for the last 26 years, which is 26 of the 27 years the Summer Outreach Club has been in existence. He said it has been a joy to be a part of the Summer Outreach Club Program.
“The opportunity to invest in the lives of so many kids in a positive way, as been the joy of being a part of this program,” Parker said. “You meet a lot of kids, a lot of parents and have a lot of experiences in 26 years, and for the most part, it has been a joy and a delight to be a part of the program working with the children, but also working with various staff members over the years. We hire five to seven different staff people every year and to have the opportunity to offer job opportunities for them is a blessing and a joy as well. I am glad to have been a part of it.”
Summer Outreach Club is one of the oldest summer programs for youth in the State of Ohio.
“That is probably the greatest achievements of the program, for the fact that it has been such a long-standing program, and it has impacted so many children throughout the years,” he said. “I can’t even begin to count how many children have actually come through the Outreach Club Program, who even today when I run into them, remind me that they were a part of the Summer Outreach Club. Just to know that some of the children have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, nurses, car salesmen, and a number of other things makes my heart glad. We of course, can’t take all of the credit, but just to know that we had a little part in investing in their lives is phenomenal.”
The 2016 Summer Outreach Club will run June 6-Aug. 5, from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Club is free to boys and girls ages five to 12. Participating children will also enjoy free breakfast and lunch served daily sponsored by Scioto County Community Action Organization.
“For a number of years Community Action has been instrumental in helping to provide us with breakfast, lunch, and a Friday food pack for our children, and all of that free. It is done through a national and state food program,” he said. “We really appreciate their investment in our kids during the summer.”
There will be no transportation provided to nor from Summer Outreach as in times past due to the overwhelming cost to do so. Parents and guardians are solely responsible for transporting their children to and from Outreach.
“We are going back to some of our staples, and that includes linking back up with the Southern Ohio Art Museum,” he said. “We will be doing Cirque D’Art, visual arts, as well as music with them during the summer. We also have a program lined up with the Portsmouth Public Library, where we will be taking the kids down for some activities in arts and crafts and other kinds of things.”
Kids will learn how to practice healthy eating habits, and to make exercise a priority through a program sponsored by Southern Ohio Medical Center.
“Additionally, the Southern Ohio Medical Center sends us an exercise and nutrition staff person who comes and works with the kids during the summer,” he said. “So those are some of the things that we will be doing this year. We have a couple of teachers out of the Portsmouth City School District who will come and will be implementing a reading program for our younger children to keep them engaged academically. We’ve contracted with a young man who is very talented in arts and crafts, and he is going to be doing six different projects, three for our five to eight year old children, and three for our nine to 12 year old children. So those are some of the things that we have going on.”
Summer Outreach Club will also include a variety of games, sports, field trips and prevention education. Special attention is given to developing coping skills, good behavior, confidence and improved self-image.
“We will be swimming again this summer. Once a week we go to McKinley Pool to swim, and the kids love it, and we enjoy taking them,” he said. “Then, of course is the end of the year trip which we are still working out the details for. This will be a trip to The Beach which is located near Cincinnati. What we normally do is divide the group, and on Thursday, August 4th we will take the five to eight year olds, and then on Friday, August 5th we will take the nine to 12 year olds.”
With a smile and laughter, Parker said with the early dismissal in some of the local schools, parents have to deal with their children at home until Outreach kicks off on June 6.
“The Program typically starts one week after school, but this year school let out a little early, so parents have had a couple of weeks of weeks to deal with what we will deal with for nine weeks,” he said. “A number of parents have said, to me, man we have two weeks until Summer Outreach, I don’t know what we’re going to do with them. So It is a longer break between school letting out, and the start of Outreach.”
Seven adults are presently hired and scheduled to begin work with program. One more adult worker is needed, according to Parker.
“We typically hire five to eight adults to work with the youth for Summer Outreach. We call them youth chaperones,” he said. “And, of course that means they are responsible for helping to facilitate all of the activities for the day, supervising, taking care of the kids, going on field trips with them. We we take the kids on trips such as to the library, we always send at least two of our chaperones so facilitate, and supervise and make sure that our children are safe and enjoy the activities. We have already seven people so far, and are in need of one additional person.”
Parker said a police background check, drug screening, Tuberculosis test is required for all potential employees, as well as adult volunteers.
Summer Outreach is advantageous in that children who participate can take what they experience with them for the rest of their lives.
“There are a couple of benefits of being a part of the Summer Outreach Program. First, it gives kids something to do, something to look forward to every day for nine weeks,” he said. “It is a safe, healthy, fun-filled environment for them. Additionally, we do have rules, we do have guidelines, and we’re trying to teach and challenge the kids to prepare themselves for the future, and to be able to go back to school and engage in different social circles and environments, and to learn how to do that in a healthy and constructive way. I think that is the value and benefit of the program. The children who participate can take these experiences with them for the rest of their lives.”
For more information regarding Summer Outreach Club sign up and kick off, call 740-353-1802.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.