By Jeremy Wallace
CASSTOWN — The Casstown United Methodist Church is opening its doors — and books — for children in the area this summer.
This is the first year for the “Live Free” program at Casstown United Methodist Church. It’s designed for youth entering kindergarten through sixth grade. The Live Free grant is a six-week program provided by the Miami Valley District of the United Methodist Church, which started last year in the Cincinnati area.
“The church was looking for a way to reach out to the community and especially to help the youth in the area,” said Maggie Sykes, pastor of the Casstown Church.
The days starts out with singing and stories of hope. The first reading session is focused on academic reading. The children then have lunch. Following lunch, they get to pick their own book to read. There is also recess break so the children can enjoy the outdoors.
“I like reading books, 39 Clues is my favorite book,” Tyler Motter, 9, of Miami East Elementary, said.
The summer program highlights reading skill development, crafts, music and tips for healthy living. A healthy lunch and snack is included, which follows the Ohio Department of Education lunch guidelines.
“My favorite part of the program is lunch because I love macaroni and cheese,” Harper Lee, 12, of Graham Elementary School, said.
Each week they have had different presentations on various subjects, including the Troy-Miami County Library Bookmobile, Casstown Fire Department and Brukner Nature Center are some of the organizations who have stopped by on presentation days to inform the children of what they do in the community.
On Tuesday, Deputy Ryan Karn of the Miami County Sheriff’s Office talked to the children about bicycle safety and stranger danger.
“It’s important for the children to know about these things and we want to keep them safe,” Karn said.
There are also plans of a similar program in the fall for children. It will be an after-hours program that will give them extra help with areas they may be having trouble with in school.
“This program has been so successful this year we are planning to do it again next year. The children and volunteers are all having a great time,” Sykes said.
Jeremy Wallace can be reached at 937-552-2199 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @TroyDailyNews