Summer programs offer youth a variety of experiences

(Plain Press, August 2007) Children attending summer programs in churches and community centers on the West Side are participating in a variety of enriching experiences this summer.

St. Colman’s Church

A Multicultural Family Festival was underway on Thursday, July 12th in the basement of St. Colman’s Church on W. 65th and Madison. Families from the parish and families of children in the God in His City Family Vacation Bible Fun Class came to the festival to share their customs, dance and food with children in the bible class.

Sister Juanita Shealey, C.S.J., lead the multicultural event wearing traditional Nigerian clothing. Children listened attentively as Sister Juanita Shealey shared stories  the first nations in Africa, the motherland of all the peoples of the world.

Families sampled food from many cultures. Children examined clothing and items from the Congo, Liberia, Japan Laos, Puerto Rico and Ireland.
St. Colman’s parishioner, Daruny Mounthanivong, and her friends Adam and Kitaya Southivong, talked to the children about Laos and Laotian culture and traditions and presented a Laotian Heritage storyboard with photos of Laotians in Laos and America. Daruny and Kitaya wore  traditional Laotian dress.

Colleen McCarthy of the McCarthy-Ryan Academy of Irish Dance demonstrated traditional Irish dance for the children and taught them some dance steps and kicks. McCarthy brought with her a traditional Irish dance dress engraved with a pattern designed by monks for the Book of Kells, which is housed at Trinity College in Dublin.

Children in the God in the City Vacation Bible class participate in a week-long variety of activities in July. Sr. Wilma Apach, C.S. J., who heads the program, said the children had a great deal of fun in a kite-making exercise. The class hoped to view baby chicks and ducks scheduled to hatch from eggs in an incubator in Father Bob Begin’s office in the Parish House. The vacation bible class at St. Colman’s is targeted to children ages 4-12. However, children of all ages can participate if accompanied by a parent or grandparent.

Denison Avenue United Church of Christ

About a dozen children ages six to thirteen participate in a Summer Performing Arts Camp at Denison Avenue United Church of Christ at W. 99th and Denison Avenue. Activities take place in a gym in the church basement and in an art room upstairs.

Pastor Rev. Dr. C. Nozomi Ikuta explains that teachers come from the traditions they are teaching. Children in the program participate in Japanese drumming led by the IchoDaiko taiko drum group, Native American dancing led by the Crooked River Dance Troupe, African dance, drama and culture led by Rashiadah Weaver and a Praise Dance led by Deliverance Productions.

Rinaya Browning and Milia Early, both age 11, join with Rev. Ikuta in demonstrating lessons they had learned about the art of Japanese drumming. Rev. Ikuta explained that the drumming is part of a larger tradition that includes physical exercises in the martial arts.

Jake Streeter, who directs the youth programs at the church, says for the past two years the church has hosted an after school program for children ages 12-18 that includes a wireless café. The church decided to offer the program to the younger students age 6-13 for its first summer program this year.

The children participate in an exercise led by Monica Streeter with the theme of “umoja” or unity. As part of the exercise they created glitter artwork around the “umoja” theme. Raymond Robinson, age 8, couldn’t resist creating artwork with his name “Ray” in glitter.

West Side Community House

Thirty-five 4th, 5th and 6th grade Cleveland Municipals School District students are enjoying the Smart In the City program this summer at West Side Community House. Taking a break from their writing, art, music, theater and dance classes, the children are gathered outside in the playground playing baseball and jumping rope.

West Side Community House (WSCH) Executive Director Dawn Kolograf has a long rope and is cutting it to pieces of the right size so it can be used for the challenging “Double Dutch” jump rope contest. WSCH Administrative Assistant Gloria Perez, joins in the fun demonstrating her expertise in twirling two ropes simultaneously for the “Double Dutch” rope jumpers.

After the break, children move into their various classes. Quareau Rhodes, Rosalin Adams, Geneces Acosta and Micaela Hearn don masks they made in their art class while posing for photos in dance stances while directed by dance instructor Susana Weingarten of Dancevert.

Kolograf has high praise for the Smart in the City Program of the Cleveland Foundation. She said in addition to the arts instructors, students in the program are taking field trips to see some of Cleveland’s precious cultural offerings such as the Cleveland Orchestra. The Smart in the City Program is taking place in seven other sites in Cleveland this summer, including Merrick House in Tremont. Kolograf says she hopes the program will continue for many years to come.

(see related photos here)


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