Our Children, Our Future.

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July 1 officially kicked off National Make a Difference to Children Month.

In 2006, child advocate Kim Ratz initiated an annual observance where parents, providers, and people who care about kids would be encouraged to find ways to “Make a Difference to Children” in July, and year-round. This grassroots campaign was begun to get adults to be more engaged in the lives of children.

Think back to your childhood — who are the adults you remember who made a positive difference to you – a teacher, neighbor, a relative? As a child I spent countless hours at my small town library in Youngsville, PA. Books were, and still are, my escape to far off places, different times and careers of my choice. Thousands of ideas were at my fingertips. My other great escape was our public pool. By foot or by bike I would traverse “Pool Hill” for fun in the sun with my friends listening to music and swimming the days away.

This summer is unlike any other in modern history. Not allowing for library visits or public pool days. But there is still plenty of fun to be had and ways to make a difference in the everyday lives of our community’s children.

Summer camp is in full swing at the Boys and Girls Club of Jamestown. “We’re here to provide structure and opportunity for fun along with the safety and health of youth, staff, family and friends” said Executive Director Jeff Kroon when we spoke. Though modified to adhere to current state and local COVID-19 restrictions and standards there are days full of fun, learning and enrichment to be had at the Club. Dianne Woleen is proud of the way the club is managing social distancing, space and sanitization throughout the day. Full and half day camps offer a wide variety of areas and activities for children ages 5-12, Monday – Friday. Breakfast, lunch and a snack are provided to campers. School aged teens 13-18 have the club to themselves from 3-5 weekdays. While there is a fee for camp participation Mr. Kroon explained that he doesn’t want financial issues to stop children from being able to participate. Scholarships are available to cover camp costs. Don’t miss out! There are still openings available for camps that run through August 21, 2020. Call 716-664-2902 for registration.

Food insecurity is a global issue that touches every community. In the richest country in the world it is unfathomable that anyone should be hungry. The reality is much different and Chautauqua County is no exception. Programs like camps at the Boys and Girls Club, free breakfast and lunch through the school districts, the Salvation Army, the Backpack Program, soup kitchens and food pantry’s help bridge the gap and are at times the difference between a nutritious meal for a child and hunger.

How can you make a difference in the life of a child not only in July but year round?

  1. Choose an event or activity to do with a child. Nature, reading and talks are all FREE!
  2. Support an organization that serves children. Your support might be as a volunteer or a financial donation.
  3. Tell your policymakers to support initiatives that are good for kids. Attend a school board, city council or county meeting. Write your state legislators and congressional delegation.
  4. Get the word out! Your neighbors, relatives, friends, people at work and places of fellowship can separately or as a group make a huge difference.

The possibilities are endless, and you’ll have fun too!

One person can make a difference in a child’s life. Make sure that person is you.