‘SporAc’ a place to play, learn

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

School may not start for the next few months, but kids like Jada Graves still spend at least a part of their mornings in a classroom.

&uot;Sometimes we look at the TV,&uot; says the 12-year-old Oakland Elementary School student. &uot;Sometimes we talk or write in our journals. I write about what I like about SporAc.&uot; She’s one of the dozens of Suffolk children taking part in the summer program that combines sports and academics to keep them healthy during their months off. Held Monday through Friday at King’s Fork Recreation Center, the camp has included field trips to Busch Gardens, the Smithfield Skating Rink, and other locations of fun.

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The program started in Feb. 1995 as part of a collaboration between the Suffolk Public school system and the Parks and Recreation Department (Councilman Charles Brown was instrumental in spearheading the program).

&uot;Our major thing is life-learning skills,&uot; said recreation supervisor Tameka Dillard, &uot;and it just gets the kids more involved in socializing. It keeps them off the streets and out of trouble, and it gives them something to do on summer vacation rather than just staying at home.&uot;

After completing a few worksheets and other activities in the classroom, campers do a few arts and crafts. That’s where Jasmyne Clifford gets inventive with pipe cleaners. &uot;I can make ANYTHING with them!&uot; she says. &uot;I made a hat, and I can make a house and a spider. It looks so cool! I make a lot of stuff with pipe cleaners and Popsicle sticks.&uot; The kids have created several picture frames, pillows, and other projects.

After spending a bit of time in the gym, it’s time for a turn in the computer lab. &uot;That’s my favorite, because I like going on the Internet,&uot; said Aniqua Holland. &uot;We learned about Microsoft and Power Point, and made slide shows about our favorite musicians.&uot;

Her choice was rap artist Lloyd Banks of the group G-Unit. &uot;I loved looking at his pictures and listening to his music.&uot;

Finally, the future NBA and WNBA stars return to the gym to sharpen their cagie skills. The girls sit in chairs and shoot, while the boys play games of three-on-three. &uot;The gym is the best part of camp,&uot; says Jalen Eason, &uot;because we all have fun. Basketball’s a good sport, and we all love running around.&uot;