Retaining reading through the summer

ROLL: Andrew Leach, 8, rolls the dice during a learning activity Wednesday at O.J. Neighbours Elementary School.

In an effort to help children retain their skills between grades and prevent the loss of reading skills over the summer break, the Wabash County YMCA's SPARK Day Camp is offering engaging activities through July 28.

Stacey Fry, director of youth development, oversees the program at both O.J. Neighbours Elementary School and Manchester Elementary School.

“We target kids mostly who are at risk for not passing standardized tests in school. But, sometimes they need a safe place to be,” she said Wednesday, as she walked the OJN halls. “They are concerned about their reading levels sometimes slipping in the summer. We can be that kind of gap filler also.”

Fry said Mondays through Thursdays start with academic mornings when students focus on math and literacy for 90 minutes each.

“It's been going really well, really smooth,” said Amanda Stewart, assistant director of youth development, who serves as site director for OJN. “The kids seem to be having a good time. It's been a really good summer so far.”

In addition, children have the opportunity to get outside the classroom, as well. Fry said they have developed a partnership with the First United Methodist Church, where students work on their community garden. Fry said the children also go to the Y two afternoons a week for water safety.

Fridays are all about field trips featuring locations such as the Dr. James Ford Historic Home, the Wabash Fire Department and the Wabash County Historical Museum.

“We try to get a variety of activities that some of our kids may not have the chance to do outside of being here,” said Fry. “So, each day half of our kids go somewhere, and the other group here, we have a P.E. instructor that teaches P.E. one day and nutrition the other day.”

Fry said the program is free for students, and includes busing paid for by the city and MSD.

“No matter where you live you can get a ride home,” she said.