SUMMER ENRICHMENT PROGRAM
The mission of the Summer Enrichment Program is to provide positive developmental, educational, recreational and social interventions to meet the needs of elementary school aged children in Putnam County, who have been identified with one or more of the following possible risk factors: low family income, divorce, transient family, poor school attendance, racial minority, inadequate housing, exposure to caregivers who are chemically dependent, poor mental health of parent, exposure to domestic violence, exposure to criminal activity, and exposure to family or peers who devalue education.
The Summer Enrichment Program has three primary goals:
- To provide programs designed to stimulate children’s interests, increase their adaptive skills and level of functioning, stretch their horizons, and encourage long-tem growth.
- To engage children in positive interactions with experienced adults and counselors who act as mentors and role models.
- To provide elementary aged children in Putnam County with a variety of positive activities including:
- Activities to increase awareness of and involvement in artistic expression such as arts and crafts, creative writing, playacting, and music.
- Recreational and physical activities to improve health and self-esteem.
- Interactions with the natural world to increase understanding of and respect for the environment.
- Social interactions emphasizing respect for self and others, appropriate conflict resolution skills, and ability to accept appropriate boundaries and structure.
- Exposure to sound practices of health, nutrition, and cleanliness.
For over a quarter century, the Summer Enrichment Program in Putnam County, a United Way agency, has provided a safe haven and a vital safety net for children with identified risk factors. Putnam County school guidance counselors, principals, teachers, Putnam County Family Support Services staff, Child Protection Services staff, and Reading Improvement Center staff provide the names of Putnam County children in grades one to five with identified educational, social, or economic risk factors. Elementary school age children at the Beyond Homeless shelter are also invited to participate. Gobin Memorial United Methodist and St. Andrew’s Episcopal churches co-sponsor the program.
Each summer approximately 65 children enjoy five weeks of arts activities, swim lessons, sports, social skills lessons, and a wide variety of enrichment opportunities. Since 1992, we are a Child Nutrition Program site and provide nutritionally complete breakfasts and lunches, as many children experience food insufficiency. Gobin Church houses the program, and we use facilities at DePauw University, Robe-Ann Park, and the Putnam County Public Library for program activities. The Greencastle School Corporation and the York Automotive Group-Greencastle generously provide mini-busses at no cost so we can transport children to and from the program site, to the Robe-Ann Park Aquatic Center, and for field trips.
A professional Education Director, Assistant Education Director-Bus Driver, and teams of counselors (college students and recent high school graduates) and mentors (high school students) work closely with small groups of children. The bonds forged during the program are so strong that many counselors, mentors, and children return year after year. Brian Cox, Executive Director, coordinates program administration, and a governing board consisting of members from Gobin and St. Andrews churches and the community oversee all aspects of the program.
In addition to United Way funds, generous donations from community members, churches, and civic organizations support the Summer Enrichment Program while grants fund special arts, science, and enrichment activities. Members of the community generously donate their time and expertise to provide artistic, cultural, and scientific experiences, manage the program, and engage in fund-raising efforts.