LAUNCH gets moving

Published 9:57 pm Thursday, August 2, 2018

Healthy Suffolk partnered with Suffolk Public School’s LAUNCH program to make a music video at John F. Kennedy Middle School on Wednesday.

The LAUNCH program is designed to provide remediation in math and reading for middle school students, and part of the program includes 50 minutes of some sort of enrichment every day.

Healthy Suffolk provided each of the students with a pedometer and decided on a music video project for the end of the year.

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“Once a week, they danced, because it gives them an opportunity to move,” said summer school administrator Gwendolyn Williams. “It’s a cumulative activity for all the students to participate in.”

The enrichment is important to the program.

“It’s motivating. That’s important here, because these kids here have deficits in their education,” Williams said. “I think it helps with self-esteem. It helps display what they do well.”

Having them participate in a music video paired well with the summer program’s theme, “Lights, Camera, LAUNCH, Take Action.”

During the weekly practices, the students learned the choreography from Nansemond River High School rising senior Amya Wills.

Amya, 17, received community service hours for her work with the kids, but she was happy to do it because of her love for dance. She has been dancing at Maureen’s School of Dance for the last 11 years.

“I love dancing and kids,” Amya said. “I enjoy being able to teach different moves and have fun with them.”

For Amya, volunteering her time with the LAUNCH program was more than just teaching the kids to dance. She got the chance to be a motivator and a leader for every student.

It was a long day of filming for the kids, and it required some patience. They split the students into grade levels for filming, and the day finished with the eighth-grade students in front of the school.

Despite the heat, everyone was enjoying themselves, and both educators and school resource officers joined in on the fun.

“I am beyond proud of this group. They are amazing,” said teacher Joleen Neighbours.

Healthy Suffolk was there to help film the video, and they even brought a drone to capture the moment outside.

“This is awesome. They have put in a lot of work, and there is a lot of talent here,” said Deborah Nadell, program manager for Healthy Suffolk.

The Obici Healthcare Foundation provided the funding to Healthy Suffolk to allow them to have this and similar programs with Suffolk Public Schools.