Vacation time became a bit more special for a group of kids who took part in a special Summer Fun program that ran from June 25 to Aug. 2 in Naujaat.
The program was organized and overseen by mental health outreach worker Brittany Holm and child abuse outreach worker Lavinia Tanuyak.
“There was a lineup of kids waiting in front of the school doors to get in for every single session we held,” said Holm. “We did sessions on sports, crafts, nails, hair and baking during the course of the program.
“Then, at the end of each day, we’d hold a circle talk and discuss such topics as bullying awareness, vandalism, self-care, oral health, the use of tobacco and mental health well-being.
“We wrapped-up the program at the end of the summer with a pizza party followed by a hot breakfast.”
The program, funded through the mental-health budget, was open to both boys and girls aged five to 19, with Tuesday segments being for girls only, Wednesday sessions for boys only and Thursday sessions open to both.
Holm said there were 47 girls registered for the program, as well as 47 boys, with 28-to-50 kids showing up for any given session.
She said the program ran from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. 3:30 p.m., with snacks always being available for the participants.
Holm said the kids loved the program and had an absolute blast participating in each session.
The program attracted kids with all different types of likes and dislikes and, from what she observed, none of them attended a session and went away without having a good time.
“We had a lot of kids attending the Summer Fun program who are non-attenders at their school,” she said. “So, that just goes to show you the kids want structured activities and are happy participating in them when they’re available.
“They also knew the program was a safe place to come and enjoy themselves, which is always an important aspect of any program offered to the youth of a community.
“In fact, throughout the Summer Fun program, a large number of the older youths assumed leadership roles during the various activities to help the younger youths do better, which we were quite pleased to see.”
Holm said there were a number of times during the program when something unexpected would happen that would put a smile on her and Tanuyak’s face.
One such time was during a session that morphed from a program activity to a game of the youths’ own invention.
“There was one time when the kids were participating in a sports session with a basketball and ringette sticks when, all of a sudden, they were pretending to hunt,” she recalled. “They were very proud of themselves for coming-up with that game all on their own.
“It was absolutely amazing to see, and you could easily tell they watched their family members closely when they were out hunting.
“It was something they clearly liked doing, and it was quite educational in its delivery, so the kids get an A+ plus for an amazing game of their own creation.”