Our Energy Express program originated as a means to help kids in Harrison County improve their reading skills during the summer months. The program delivers a friendly atmosphere and ensures their nutritional well-being by providing family-style breakfast and lunch. Literacy and dietary issues have plagued the school system for years, and Energy Express has been a means to reduce the worries when school is not in session.
“Parks and Recreation has collaborated with Energy Express for over 20 years now and the numbers have shown a positive impact on the reading levels for the children that participate in the program,” related Director Mike Book. “For kids between the grades of first through sixth grade, we have a great mentor-to-student ratio and it allows us to reach the goals we set for the program. Every child accepted will not only have a chance to improve on their reading, but they will participate in many activities thus increasing their social skills.”
The biggest obstacle that the program faces is finding the proper staffing to fill the spots as mentors. The job is just not intended for recent graduates who want to go into Education in college. It is for all students, especially the ones who had someone mentor them and looking for a way to pay it forward as Book explains.
“Sure, we have a lot of future teachers wanting to be involved in the program. It is a great opportunity being a mentor to see first-hand to what a career in teaching will be. But, we have had a lot of kids do the program because they were in the program as a kid. They remember how much fun they had as a kid and this is a way to stay involved in the program, but on the other side of the fence. The program looks great on a resume and it is a chance to get some college money for books or supplies.”
Being a mentor, you will be a member of the AmeriCorps team and for doing your part with the Energy Express program each mentor will be given a living allowance of $1800 plus an additional in scholarship dollars. And with the high cost of college, every little bit counts.
During the day, mentors and children share breakfast and lunch served family-style. The nutritious meals become important learning experiences as children learn to make choices, assume responsibility, to cooperate and to encourage in-group discussion.
With three sites in the Harrison County area (Salem University, Wilsonburg Elementary and North View Elementary), parents can contact the Recreation Complex and fill out an application. Again, classroom size is small as roughly eight students to a classroom are accepted into the program. Those who do not get accepted, we do offer an alternative program through our Summer Parks Program, which runs at the same time.
If you have a graduating senior or a child currently in college and would like some more information about getting involved in the program please feel free to contact the HCPR at (304) 423-7800. You will not only be making an impact on a child’s reading as you will be making a positive difference in their life.