Youth and staff from the Full Circle Youth Program at the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority are combining fun, art and education for a good cause! This summer, six youth helped paint a Born Learning Trail in Edgewood Homes. The trail consists of ten signs highlighting different activities and games parents can play with their small children. An emphasis is placed on interacting with children and helping them find different ways to experience the world around them. The materials for this project were provided by the United Way of Douglas County and Douglas County Community Foundation.
This is one of several volunteer projects the Full Circle Youth Program is working on this summer. An interest in volunteering and giving back to the community was sparked by a Produce for Kids Veggie Party prize, a $100 gift card to make donations at DonorsChoose.org. Other projects Full Circle youth are developing and involved with include volunteering at the Lawrence Humane Society and the Lawrence Community Shelter as well as beautification projects at Edgewood Homes. These projects will continue throughout the school year as time and busy schedules allow.
The opening of the Born Learning Trail will be celebrated at the 2nd Annual ZOMBIE Walk/Bike/Run on Saturday, August 17th from 9am-12pm at Edgewood Homes, 1600 Haskell Avenue. Youth will be on hand to lead groups walking the trails as well as different activities throughout Edgewood Homes. Several local organizations attending this event include Head Start, Lawrence Public Library, LOL Family Zone, K-State Research and Extension, Parents as Teachers, Safe Kids, Success by 6 and Tiny-K. The rain date for this event will be Saturday, August 24th. For more information about the 2nd Annual ZOMBIE Walk/Bike/Run contact Mary Orem at 785-331-4418 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
After three years of operating, the New York Elementary Walking School Bus has completed its final semester. The program has been a great success with thirty-one students participating this year alone. “Bus drivers”, consisting of volunteers from the community, the University of Kansas and United Way’s AmeriCorp program and staff from New York Elementary and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority, assured that students safely walked the 1.5 mile route between New York Elementary and Edgewood Homes. Despite the prolonged winter, the Walking School Bus operated 64 days this year with an average of 8 students walking per day. The students alone walked a total distance of 700 miles. That is one and a half times the length of the entire state of Kansas.
These students should be applauded for their commitment to a healthy and active lifestyle. At a celebration on Tuesday, May 21st, students were presented with a certificate of participation and a few prizes for a job well done. Members of Walk Kansas and the Lawrence Fire and Medical Department joined staffs from New York Elementary and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority to present the awards. Each student received eight issues of the Walk Kansas Kids newsletter. Each newsletter has healthy information, activities and recipes the whole family can enjoy. We hope it will encourage students to continue walking and being active throughout the summer. Each student also received a ZOMBIE water bottle and dog tag courtesy of the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority and Douglas County Housing, Inc. After the presentation, students enjoyed a healthy snack before walking home with staff and recruits from the Lawrence Fire and Medical Department. Susan Johnson of Walk Kansas had this to say about the program, "The partnership between New York Elementary School and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority to offer a Walking School Bus to younger students is an excellent example of the community working together to promote health and wellness. Not only does it help children achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day, it also fosters a sense of teamwork and friendship. In addition, the Walking School Bus provides children the opportunity to learn about their own neighborhood, traffic safety as well as gain responsibility and a sense of independence."
Individual miles walked by these students were quite impressive. Twenty six of the thirty one participants walked more than ten miles throughout the school year. Six students walked more than twenty miles, two students walked more than thirty, four students walked more than forty, one student walked sixty miles and the participant logging the most miles was a New York Elementary kindergartner who walked a total of eighty-one miles.
We hope these students continue their healthy habits and encourage their peers to do so as well.
In October 2012, the Douglas County Housing, Inc. Full Circle Youth Program hosted a Veggie Party as a part of the Produce for Kids Party With Your Produce Challenge. Youth and their families enjoyed an afternoon of edible art, veggie puppets, snacks and Veggie Bingo. Produce for Kids awarded the Full Circle Youth Program with a third place prize and a $100 gift card to DonorsChoose.org.
A group of Full Circle middle and high school students recently used this prize to donate toward classroom projects in the Lawrence/Kansas City area. After exploring the DonorsChoose.org website, students chose to donate the prize money to three elementary classrooms in need of piano keyboards, literacy learning centers and a innovative science experiments. This eye opening experience has inspired these youth to find other ways to contribute to the community. Plans are being developed for several community service projects this summer as well as smaller projects that will be continued throughout the school year.
Check out the results of the Kids Party With Your Produce Challenge at: http://www.produceforkids.com/sweepstakes/fall2012/teacher/index
The Full Circle Youth Program's Veggie Party is mentioned in the second to last paragraph.
The New York Elementary Walking School Bus rolls through another great semester in stride! Now in its second year, the “bus” has continued to develop and this fall changed its route to better utilize East Lawrence’s Burroughs Creek Trail as a safe route home for students. The 1.5 mile route begins at New York Elementary and incorporates several “bus stops”, including Boys and Girls Club at East Heights, before ending at Edgewood Homes.
On Friday, November 30th, during a Character Counts assembly at New York Elementary, students were recognized for their hard work and persistence. Seventy five percent of participants walked at least ten miles throughout the semester with two students walking more than twenty, two more than thirty, and three students reaching over forty miles walked. Nearly thirty students participated in the Walking School Bus this semester with an average of fourteen students walking daily. Congratulations to all of the students who participated in this program and invested in a healthier future!
The “Walking School Bus” was created in 2011 by a partnership between New York Elementary, Douglas County Housing, Inc. and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority. With a generous grant from the Live Well Lawrence Fund of the Douglas County Community Foundation, students and their families have been offered a fun and healthier alternative to motorized transportation. This program provides physical activity, encourages healthy lifestyles, and gives children a time to socialize with friends. After four semesters and with the help of the community, the New York Elementary Walking School Bus has been a great success! “The walking school bus builds on New York Elementary's belief in neighborhood schools. When kids walk home together, students from different grade levels a have a chance to be together and build lasting friendships,” said New York Elementary principal, Nancy DeGarmo. “I've walked with the walking school bus and love interacting with the kids and seeing them in a totally different environment. The kids have fun walking and so do the adults.” This semester the Walking School Bus was provided four days a week with some students walking nearly every day!
Volunteers continue to be of the utmost importance to this program. This semester, staff from Douglas County Housing, Inc. and New York Elementary as well as volunteers from United Way’s AmeriCorps program, several sororities at the University of Kansas and members of the community came together to safely walk students home. The staff at Douglas County Housing, Inc. and New York Elementary would like to thank these volunteers for their hours of commitment to making this program a success!
The Walking School Bus is in need of volunteers and community partnerships to help ensure the sustainability of the program. If you or your organization is interested in becoming a volunteer bus driver or helping with our program, please contact Mary Orem at email@example.com or by calling 331-4418.