Major programs undertaken by LoveLight have included Traveling Playground, Study Buddies, and our summer program, which has provided over 63,989 nutritious lunches prepared at a local church kitchen by staff and volunteers for children living in lower-income neighborhoods in the Kent area. During the nine weeks of LoveLight’s summer program, 5,820 shelf-stable weekend meals were also distributed to children in lower-income families living in eight neighborhoods in Kent and Ravenna. In addition to the immediate physical benefits to the children, the summer lunch program, supported financially by USDA and the Ohio Department of Education, promotes healthful eating habits and a sense of community within the respective neighborhoods as well as bringing individuals and groups together in a wonderful display of community service. As resources have permitted, activities have also been provided for the children. Following is a condensed description of one summer site supervisor’s activities, which included reading, art, crafts, games, drama, planting flowers, and water play.
“Playing group activities such as volleyball, soccer, and kick ball have been among some of the children's favorite activities and provided many opportunities to utilize their gross motor skills.
The children also used their problem solving skills when we created homemade play dough. They used flour, water, and oil to create the play dough but had to use their sense of touch to know if more or less of an ingredient was used or needed. The children really seemed to enjoy this activity. I gave them multiple opportunities to do this activity and then we experimented with the colors that could be created when we added food coloring to the play dough mixtures. The children discovered they could create orange, purple, brown, and etc through mixing certain colors.
I worked with the children to have them look at the variety of culture and customs through our discussion about different beliefs that we may hold and the children were given the opportunities to create self portraits using paper plates and a variety of materials including fabrics, crayons, markers, glue, glitter, etc. This gave the children an opportunity to look at the similarities and differences that we have that make us unique.
I also worked with the children to understand our uniqueness through reading them a Native American story about this subject that used animals to depict the differences. The main character was a wise old turtle and I rescued a turtle off the road and brought it in to enhance the children's interest in the story. The story also led into a discussion about endangered species (the box turtle) and the importance of returning animals back into their natural habitats. The children were given an opportunity to create their own turtles in a craft. The turtles they created reinforced the uniqueness of their ideas.
The children at one of the sites worked on a play the last three weeks of the program. They chose the play, the characters they wanted to play, and created the props. The children gained a deep interest in reading and practicing their parts for the play. The majority of the children who participated in the play also finished the readers’ challenge. I brought in materials so that they could create a piñata for their readers’ celebration on the last day of the program.
The children at another site really expressed to me their enjoyment of painting. I gave them many opportunities to paint and use my materials to create their unique works of art. Some of the children enjoyed reading the books or having books read to them while they did the art activities.
The children seemed to enjoy board games and checkers. The children really enjoyed playing Monopoly. It was interesting to see the children use basic math skills to play the game. Older children helped the younger children to count their spaces and the money they need to pay or buy property.
Another game the children enjoyed playing was my Bop-it. This game used music rhythms and instructions to have the children to think and do what the machine told them to do on beat. It was really amazing to see how many of the children progressed and enjoyed playing the game.”