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Wellington Heights Summer Program Provides Positive Messages to Kids

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Dozens of kids are staying busy and staying out of trouble at an evening summer camp.

It’s a five-week program called the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Summer Enrichment Program.

Families don’t pay a dime for their first through fifth-graders to take part. State grant money foots the bill.

Kids are spending their evening learning, and they’re doing it in their own backyard.

When they’re not reading, kids have their hands on all kinds of different projects. A big focus this week was on STEM projects.

“I know there’s like science, chemistry, building stuff. It’s really fun,” said one 9-year-old participant.

“One thing that we felt necessary was that, not only to talk about science, technology, engineering and math, but to actually make it hands-on,” said Wellington Heights Summer Enrichment Program’s Kimberly Abram-Bryant.

Abram-Bryant said holding the program in the evening is a key part of the camp because that’s often when kids get in trouble, due to a lack of any other structured programming.

“This program started with a neighborhood concern about youth having, younger youth, having interactions with police and law enforcement and they weren’t positive interactions. And some of the youth here did not understand what the law enforcement’s job was,” Abram-Bryant said.

That is, however, something kids are learning about too. Cedar Rapids police are taking an active role in the program.

“I learned lots of new things that I didn’t know about police officers,” said Camp Participant Brooklyn Servin.

Thursday night kids took part in a fingerprinting exercise.

“It would feel really weird,” Servin said.

Four days a week the fun continues. Organizers said this enrichment program keeps kids learning and prepares them for the future.

Any kids in Cedar Rapids can enroll in the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Summer Enrichment Program. They can simply show up for camp. The best time for that would be this coming Tuesday. Program leaders said Monday the kids would be out on a field trip. Camp starts at 4 p.m. and goes until 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, at the Paul Engle Center.

Participants also get a free dinner.

This is the third year for the program.

l Comments: 319-398-8268;

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