Every summer after the final school bell rings, kiddos and their parents want to enjoy all the wonderful things warmer weather allows.
From summer camps and old-fashioned vanilla ice cream to swimming pools and gazpacho, summertime can be chock-full of treasures and opportunities.
Summer programs with educational elements sprinkled in have always been popular and local programs have much to offer.
Beginning this week, an area nutrition and gardening program will provide youngsters the opportunity of learning how to garden and enjoy fresh-cut produce while soaking up the morning summer sun. Classes are held Thursdays during the months of June and July.
Lori Boji, the recreation manager for the City of Riverside, is actively reserving spots for children ages 5-12 years old. Boji said the nutrition and gardening program is a seven-week class that teaches families how to plant a proper garden and harvest vegetables. Classes are held from 9:30 a.m.-to 11 a.m. and feature lots of hands-on learning at the Riverside Community Center, located at 4498 NW High Drive.
“The more kiddos learn about healthy eating habits at an early age, the healthier they are,” said Boji.
The classes are sponsored by the University of Missouri Extension and will be led by Keri Preston, a nutrition program specialist. Children will learn easy ways to care for a vegetable garden, like how to deal with so-called pesky pests and tend to the soil.
Since growing a successful garden can be a multiple-season process, members of the Riverside Community Center started preparing the soil in raised beds and kick-started some of the planting, including tomatoes and lettuce, several weeks ago. The young participants will plant new crops and maintain the existing plants.
When the plants mature and produce nutrient-filled produce, everyone will turn their attention to creating flavorful recipes, such as salsa and fruit smoothies jammed with fruit and ice.
Kids will be encouraged to help chop and peel nutritious food and taste recipes in class, said Boji.
The whole thing will be fun and educational, Boji says.
By the end, children and their parents will have the skills to successfully raise a variety of vegetables at home.
If it sounds like an opportunity that may interest your family, call Lori at (816) 741-4172 and reserve a spot for your child. The class is free and open to non-Riverside residents.
Youth Volunteer Corps of Greater Kansas City
If your youth is seeking an inspirational summer program that is brimful of worthwhile experiences, look no further, because the Youth Volunteer Corps awaits.
Danielle Small, program director at Youth Volunteer Corps of Greater Kansas City (YVCKC), said youngsters will engage in a wide variety of learning experiences and service opportunities that make a difference and promote cultural awareness, including organizing artifacts and databases at the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City and arranging and pricing donations at local thrift stores.
Youth will also learn healthy habits while assisting with the watering and harvesting of a local community garden. As for learning to be a good role model and citizen, there will be service opportunities that do just that.
“Our youth will be assisting teachers with younger children ages 2-5 who are enrolled in the YMCA Headstart program,” said Small. “YVC attendees will also be assisting with a World Refugee Day event at the Della Lamb Community Center and helping out at the Kansas City Community Kitchen. Our youth will have an inside glimpse into the lives of people who struggle with food insecurity or those who don’t have a meal, daily. Our kids will help serve the homeless population and learn more about their stories,” she added.
Additionally, youth will assist local Habitat for Humanity organizations at donation centers and home improvement stores. Youth tasks range from assembling furniture and testing appliances to cleaning and organizing the store.
The process of serving others and meeting the needs of the community teaches the kiddos so many essential lessons, including compassion and empathy. All of the service opportunities are consistent with making a difference in their community by helping meet the needs of its members through meaningful service projects.
“We are not a traditional youth summer program, our youth get a full week of onsite experience with nonprofit organizations to learn how they run and how they work together,” said Small. “The youth also learn how they can help out the community outside of YVC and branch out on their own. On top of that, they get the inside scoop of different job occupations under these organizations.”
This summer, YVC is partnering with 15 and the Mahomies Foundation to encourage youth to volunteer for 15 hours. Youth can register at YVC.org and make the pledge to volunteer 15 hours this summer. If transportation is a problem, don’t fret. There are virtual opportunities, which allow everyone to participate. The first 500 kids to sign the pledge and complete their hours will receive a free specially branded “Volunteer for 15” T-shirt. The youth who completes the most volunteer hours from June 1 to the end of August will earn an autographed item from Patrick Mahomes.
“I think so many kids in middle school and high school don’t realize how much of an impact they can make in their own communities by helping others,” Patrick Mahomes said in a press release. “I’m inspired by the YVC youth volunteers, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish this summer.”
Summer programs are designed for youth ages 11-18. YVC serves Platte, Clay, and Jackson Counties and currently has about 95 kids enrolled. To learn more and enroll in available projects, visit www.yvckc.org <www.yvckc.org> .
Another welcoming summer refuge is the YMCA. Whether parents are looking to enroll their youths in summer day camp or summer school before or after care, the Y has a broad array of programs. To learn more about summer day camp options, visit www.kansascityymca.org