Over the past three years, the DuPage Township Youth department has flourished under the direction of Youth Director Anthony Morelli.
"His drive and enthusiasm for serving children has enabled the youth department to grow beyond expectations," Township Supervisor Bill Mayer said.
Throughout Morelli’s tenure the Township has partnered with local entities such as the , , National Honor Society, , , Rocket Ice Arena, DUCAP, Heart Haven Outreach H2O, and the in order to assist children from under resourced families enjoy a wide range of activities.
One of the youth departments more ambitious programs — Summer Bridge — embarked on its sophomore journey this Monday. The effort ties into
the national Let’s Move campaign that encourages kids to move more.
“I really liked the slogan leave 'No Child Inside',” said Morelli. “That’s our focus. Getting these kids to turn off the TV and tune in outdoors.”
The Summer Bridge program is straightforward. It is offered at no cost to all Township residents in first through fifth grades that are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Students meet three times a week for two hours, over the course of summer break, at a designated local park to engage in organized play with their peers.
As the weather gets warmer, the Park District allows the students to move inside for structured play at the . Local AMF Bowling enter also works with the program to offer a little relief when temperatures rise above 85 degrees.
The program is based on an instructional plan prepared by Physical Education Teacher Gale Shaw. The plan begins with a group warm-up, before children are subdivided, by age into groups, and guided through a series of stations that feature creative play.
“Kinda warms your heart to see all these kids playing together,” said DuPage Township’s Public Relations Director Maureen Hayes. “This is exactly the goal we are going for. Kids coming together and playing old fashioned games with friends, enjoying good ole fashioned fun.”
In total 120 young people ran, kicked, jumped, hopped and worked up a sweat playing games that required skills with hula hoops, as well as a variety of bouncy balls.
Jacqueline Smith, a junior at the University of Illinois, is spending this summer working as an intern for the Township.
“We were surprised at how seamlessly the day came together," she said. "Last year we only had 60 kids and this year the direction was to double that amount. We also doubled the amount of volunteers. BHS Honor Society gives us the most help. Today we had 25 of their students show up. Many of them were with us last year. They already knew what needed to be done.”
Butler University Kristina Parro is also interning with the program.
"Our Township is awesome," she said. "The parents are so grateful to have this for their kids. For me, just seeing how much fun the kids are having makes it all worthwhile.”
For more information about DuPage Township’s youth programs, contact Morelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.