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Energy Express Still In Need for Kids, Volunteers

By Staff | Jun 24, 2015

Photos Provided Volunteers are needed to come in and listen to children read, as well as to read to the children. Volunteers of any age are welcome.

While Energy Express did begin Monday, June 22 in Wetzel County, applications are still be accepted for participants, especially those who would attend the Paden City Elementary School location.

Energy Express, which was approved for Wetzel County in February, is an award winning, 8-week summer reading and nutrition program for first through sixth. Wetzel County’s program will be held June 22 through July 31, Monday through Friday, 8:30a.m. -11 a.m. Transportation is available for Wetzel County children.

When pitching the idea for the program to the Wetzel County Board of Education this past February, Wetzel County Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Pre-K, and Title I, Shane Highley, stated that research has shown that during the summer, many children fall behind academically, suffer nutritionally, and lack a safe and secure environment. Energy Express’ Mission states that it “promotes the success of children living in rural and low-income communities by providing summer learning experiences and nutritious meals.”

Mollie Toppe, Wetzel County’s WVU Extension Agent, explained that Energy Express is a place-based curriculum, that offers family-style meals, service, small groups, and parent and community involvement. It also involves a print-rich atmosphere. Toppe added that weekly themes will include topics such as: Myself, Homeplace, Family, Community, Friends, and Making My World a Better Place. Nutritious family-style meals help to teach responsibility, develop cooperation, and encourage conversation.

A typical day for a child in the program would be as follows: 8-8:30 a.m., site team arrives; 8:30-9 a.m., children arrive, family-style breakfast; 9-11:30 a.m., print-rich activities; 11:30 a.m. to noon; family-style lunch, children depart; and noon to 2 p.m., site team meetings, planning, reflection, and connecting with families and the community.

An Energy Express site is made up of 40 to 64 elementary age children, one site coordinator, one or two community coordinators, five to eight mentors, family and community members as volunteers, and local partners.

The program is 70 percent federally funded. This is its first year for Wetzel County.

Children from surrounding counties are also allowed to attend the Wetzel County’s Energy Express; however, transportation will not be provided for these students.