Collegian to run new rec program WEST COLUMBIA


June 23, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Richard DeVivo wants to pass on some lessons he learned from football and wrestling coaches to the youths he'll be supervising this summer in a newly created recreational program for Harper's Choice Middle School students.

"I'm hoping these kids will really learn something," said Mr. DeVivo, 22, a Highland resident and Howard Community College student. "I'll give them a little bit of my philosophy and encouragement. I'll tell them they're doing a great job, and they'll really be motivated; they'll all feel like superstars. It's really important to feel special."

The Harper's Choice Community Association has contributed $3,600 to launch the program targeting youngsters who live in five West Columbia apartment communities. The program, which starts Tuesday and runs through Aug. 20, is designed to occupy kids who otherwise might be idle or "at risk" of getting into trouble, organizers said.

"It will give more structure to the lives of children in the summer months," said Elsie Walters, executive director of Columbia Housing Corp., a parent company that administers federal housing programs for the five Community Homes Management Corp. developments.

"Hopefully, it will enhance parental involvement as well. These are children who probably wouldn't have anything to do this summer otherwise," she said.

The Columbia Association has helped coordinate the program, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The program will stress sports, such as basketball, flag football and soccer, but will also include tutoring, board games and leisure activities, such as watching videos.

The county Cooperative Extension Service and 4-H staff will work with parents to help them deal more effectively with their children, Ms. Walters said.

Mr. DeVivo played football in New Jersey and wrestled at Centennial High School and Kutztown State University in Pennsylvania before transferring to HCC.

Assistant counselor Jay Green, 17, was a First Team All County football selection at left tackle and will be a senior at Wilde Lake High School.

The counselors both view their jobs as an opportunity to be role models and establish constructive routines for the participants.

"For all I know these kids will be great, but I know the age is tough to work with," Jay said. "I feel like it's a positive program, instead of kids doing negative things. There's a chance that can always happen. I'd rather have them doing things all day so they're really tired when they get home."

Mr. DeVivo said he's always wanted to help kids.

"You don't need to be Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley to touch kids. You let them be themselves and accomplish things," he said. "It will make me feel good if they learn something from me that will guide them through life."

Some residents of Community Homes -- Waverly Winds, Fall River Terrace and Ranleagh Court in Harper's Choice village, and Rideout Heath and Roslyn Rise in Wilde Lake village -- are "priced out of the market" for summer activities such as pool memberships or sports camps, said Ann Scherr, CA assistant director of community services.

The program is "sorely needed" on Columbia's west side, she said. The Columbia Teen Center offers activities on the east side.

The program is open to boys and girls, and is not restricted to Community Homes residents. No maximum number of participants has been set, but Ms. Scherr recommended 20 to 30.

CA will charge $10 per week for Community Homes residents, and $25 per week for other residents in the middle school lTC district. Scholarships will be available for families that can't afford $10 per week, based on CA eligibility requirements. Participants will meet each day at Kahler Hall and will play at nearby athletic facilities.

For information or to register, call (410) 715-3165.

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