Safe place needed for summerPublished 6:06pm Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Summer memories in Selma are creeping up to me like Kudzu as the air gets stickier and my air conditioning unit already seems exhausted.
There are so many events I covered last May and June for the paper where I think I came soaking wet, dripping even, because I was in formal work attire and the heat radiating off of the blacktop tried to get me to melt. Despite the memory of heat, there are several things that stand out more than others from coverage last summer.
One of those memories is what happens to children in Selma when they get out of school.
For many children, summer represents pool parties, sleepovers and eating ice cream for breakfast but snacking on fresh fruit and watermelons throughout the day. For less fortunate children, summer is time without school lunches. These children do not have sleepovers and pool parties to attend. They are left alone in their living rooms to watch whatever comes on television that day and are under the care of any neighbors that are kind enough to peek their heads in the house.
Thankfully, there is the Summer Feed program. When I covered the program last summer I imagined each Summer Feed site served between 30 and 50 children. I was very wrong in my assumption, as I normally am. At the Tipton Middle School site they serve somewhere around 80 children for free lunch each day.
This is a great program that is offered at multiple sites throughout the county and they are always in need of volunteers. These programs also offer recreational programs and open up school gyms for children. The Dallas County Extension Agency brings games and fun to these children, getting them moving and off of the couch and in a safe and supervised environment. For children in some parts of Selma, this is a bigger deal than it may seem.
I met a volunteer named Chester Anderson who opens up the Tipton Middle gym each day and supervises the children. He told me that when he arrives, somtimes as early as 8 a.m., there are already children waiting at the door for him. I imagine these children have parents that work tough hours.It warms my heart to know there are volunteers helping them find things to do.
I challenge both the Selma City and Dallas County School Boards to find ways to open their gyms for summer free of charge, staff it with volunteers and allow children to have a safe environment. It is never a child’s fault they are left at their homes during the summer. Our schools keep them safe and fed during the school year and these children rely on the schools to do just that. Lets offer them a place for the summer to while the schools are just collecting dust.