Westchester County, NY (PRWEB) July 09, 2015
Members of the Dynamic Diplomats of Double Dutch, most recently seen on NBC’s “I Can Do That,” were on hand to kick off the 36th season of the Westchester-based Brighter Futures Summer Camp on July 9 at the Ridgeway Elementary School in White Plains. The nationally-acclaimed National Double Dutch League is an organization that holds competitions, youth clinics, coaching workshops and performs internationally with members ranging from teenagers to adults in their 30’s.
For 36 years, Lifting Up Westchester (formerly known as Grace Church Community Center) has provided a four-week summer day camp program for homeless and disadvantaged children from all over Westchester County. Brighter Futures Summer Camp provides an enriching, educational and fun summer camp experience, with a variety of athletic and artistic opportunities, for up to 100 homeless and at-risk children who might otherwise spend their summers on the street with little or no supervision.
Campers participate in a wide range of activities as well as special events, including Carnival Day, Olympic Days, talent shows, field trips and basketball tournaments. A typical day at camp includes water activities, games, arts and crafts, music and a reading/writing activity. A pizza party and weekly awards ceremony are held every Friday and field trips are scheduled as funding permits.
Creativity and personal expression are important components of the program. A full-time arts and crafts instructor works with the children to develop their artistic talent and help them to express themselves through the arts. In recent years the camp has offered a music program run by volunteers from Scarsdale High School in which children make their own instruments and learn about music and rhythm.
Since many campers struggle academically during the school year, educational activities such as reading groups, poetry and journal keeping have become an integral part of the camp day to prevent summer backsliding. Additionally, children often come to camp hungry, so breakfast, lunch and a snack are provided daily. Campers are also welcome to take food home with them. Clean clothing, new sneakers, bathing suits, towels and school supplies are distributed as needed.
The Brighter Futures Summer Camp serves an exceptionally needy youth population,” explained Executive Director Paul Anderson-Winchell. All campers are homeless or come from homes with household income levels near or below poverty level. Many of the campers have learning or emotional/behavioral problems. “We offer a really fun environment with appropriate boundaries and expectations, constructive healthy activities and support to help these at-risk children stay committed to education and learning,” Anderson-Winchell said.
Eileen Torres, Director of Youth Services, went on to say, “We embrace children with difficult behaviors knowing that camp can have a positive impact in their lives. Many of these children have been rejected by other camps as “too difficult to handle” but our counselors and staff have always been able to make great strides with them.”
Funding for the camp comes from grants and a direct mail campaign. In the past, grantors have included the Westchester Community Foundation, Episcopal Charities, Rye Presbyterian Women, Hitchcock Presbyterian Women and the USTA. Funding is used primarily to provide camp scholarships as parents of campers are typically unable to pay even a small portion of the $900 cost of sending a child to camp.
Homeless children receive a $400 camp subsidy from the Westchester County Department of Social Services (DSS) so Lifting Up Westchester provides them with an additional $500 camp scholarship. The majority of other campers require a full $900 scholarship in order to enjoy a camp experience. This summer, the camp is estimated to need $60,000 in camp scholarships, however only half of the funding has been raised so far.
Following are some ways that the general public and Westchester residents can help our at-risk campers:
- Make a financial donation to help provide camp scholarships
- Donate bathing suits in all sizes- both children’s sizes and adult sizes
- Donate new towels, suntan lotion, flip flops and full face goggles
For more information, please visit http://www.liftingupwestchester.org or contact Chris Schwartz at chrisschwartz(at)liftingupwestchester(dot)org or (914) 949-3098.
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Lifting Up Westchester (http://www.liftingupwestchester.org) is a 501 (c )(3) organization whose mission is to restore hope to Westchester County’s men, women and children in need by providing them with food, shelter and support- lifting them to greater self-sufficiency with dignity and respect. It is one of the largest social services agencies in Westchester County and has been fulfilling its mission since 1979 through the operation of eight community-based programs. The agency serves 4,500 men, women and children each year providing 140,000 meals to the hungry and 28,000 nights of shelter to the homeless.
In 1973, NYC Police Detectives David A. Walker and Ulysses Williams developed the street game of Double Dutch into the World Class Sport that it is today. With the assistance of the physical education instructors at IS 10, Walker and Williams revitalized the game by developing it into a competitive team sport. On February 14, 1974, the first Double Dutch tournament was held with nearly 600 students participating. Since that initial tournament, competitive Double Dutch has expanded with citywide and national championships. Nearly 100,000 girls and boys representing schools and community centers throughout the United States and world compete for team positions at the national and international events. The American Double Dutch League, the sport’s first governing body was formed by Walker in 1974 and went on to form the International Double Dutch Federation (the international governing body of the sport,) the National Double Dutch League (http://www.nationaldoubledutchleague.com/), and the world famous DDDD-Dynamic Diplomats of Double Dutch team. For the past twelve years, Walker’s invention of the popular “Fusion” free-style approach for the sport of Double Dutch is the format adopted and used at the internationally supported Double Dutch Holiday Classic© and other world-class tournaments throughout the world.