TCOG program frees children from summertime tedium

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TCOG program frees children from summertime tedium

Children play the “fish game," which involves dodging pool noodles, Thursday morning at the Bonham House Authority TEAM Center building during the Texoma Council of Governments Summer Youth Program. (Alex Maxwell / Herald Democrat)

By Alex Maxwell – Herald Democrat

For two days each week during the summer, about a dozen children meet at the Bonham Housing Authority TEAM Center for a few morning hours of crafts, games and learning activities.

The Texoma Council of Governments Public Housing Program in Bonham hosts a Summer Youth Program for 5- to 12-year-olds, and the program partners with various organizations to provide the children unique opportunities to fill the summertime tedium.

“We just felt like this would be a good way to fill a gap for kids in the summer when they’re kind of sitting around with nothing necessarily to do,” Lou Ann Taylor, social services coordinator for TCOG Public Housing, said. “We felt like if we involved other agencies that could bring in some education along with the fun that would not only give the kids something to do, but they could learn something along the way and a lot times not realize they’re learning something.”

Every Tuesday and Thursday from June 14 to August 11, the community partner agencies volunteer their time to provide activities for the children, who are primarily from the local public housing. Pride Prevention, Fannin County Crisis Center, North Texas Youth Connection, Agri-Life Extension Office, Morning Star Academy, CVS Home Health, and the Windom Baptist Church are among the organizations that plan hourlong programs for the children through the course of the summer.

“The program was set up for the kids who reside in our public housing, but there are kids here today that don’t live here and never lived here,” Taylor said Thursday. “We don’t turn anybody down.”

Taylor said about 8 to 14 kids take part in the activities each day, and she credited the community partners with making the program special for the children. A few of the highlights include a magician, a dental education program, a wildlife presentation and an end of the summer movie day at a local theater.

“I think it’s great because of the fact that it not only gives the kids something to do, but it also makes them and their parents aware of the agencies that are in the area,” Taylor said. “The kids love coming because we have so many different things to look forward to.”

On Thursday, volunteers from the First Assembly of God Church in Bonham led the 12 children in crafts and games. Liz Dyvig, an associate pastor, said this is the second year her church has been involved in this program, and they draw from Vacation Bible School material to find ways on keeping the children engaged and entertained. She said her church searches for ways to be involved in the public housing community, and when they heard about the youth program, they wanted to do their part in helping out.

“I think it’s great for the residents of this community,” Dyvig said. “… I hope the children have fun, and I always hope they learn a little bit more about God.”

The church will host activities for the youth program on three different days. Dyvig was joined by another member of the church, Faye Rogers, who read a story and lead an interactive craft with a Bible memory verse.

On June 9, the Public Housing Program launched this year’s youth program with a Kickoff Party that included live music, a balloon artist and a petting zoo. The TCOG Public Housing Program in Bonham hosts several different activities throughout the year for residents. Taylor noted a few of big events were an Easter Egg Hunt and a Halloween carnival.

“The kids aren’t just sitting idle all the time — they’re getting out and they’re exploring, learning new things and having fun along the way,” Taylor said. “… My philosophy is that it does take a village to raise a child, and the partnerships we have with individuals and agencies are invaluable to kids as well as adults.”