‘Playing, but learning’: Summer program exercises mind, body and spiritPublished 10:09pm Friday, June 28, 2013
School may be out, but the learning has just begun for area children participating in the summer program at the Purpose of God Annex Outreach Center.
The nonprofit organization has planned a summer curriculum that focuses on STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.
Children, ages 6 to 8 listened to a lecture on anatomy this week as the older set did online research and conducted experiments. One class will soon start on the construction of a robot.
The emphasis on science is only one aspect of the nonprofit’s summer program, said Bishop Samuel Jones Jr., director of the annex.
“The summer program is about exercises: physical, social, mental and spiritual,” he said.
After burying four members of his congregation this year, Jones was motivated to help the lives he touched be healthy ones.
“I’ve got children here 10 to 12 years old and 200 or 300 pounds,” he said.
The kids start each morning with physical exercise. Jones said he wanted to instill good habits at an early age.
The annex’s funding has been severely cut and most families do not pay to attend the program. Jones said he is down to a staff of 13, eight of them volunteers.
Minimal funding means Curriculum Director Sharon Jones has to be creative when coming up with science projects for the children to do. She has had classes build bridges of paper then test their strength with water.
A rubber egg experiment was popular with the 9- to 12-year-olds. The only supplies needed were vinegar, an egg and a jar to hold them.
“That was probably the best so far,” Sharon Jones said. “It was not only fun for the students, but it was teaching them. They are playing, but they’re learning.”
Jones said he knows why the program has continued, despite its hardship.
With all of the changes the summer program, there is one thing still at its core. Kids get an hour of Bible study a day.
“Because we have God in it. We’re all here because we believe we have a calling,” Jones said. “I think that’s why my volunteers won’t go away.”