When DuPage Township launched its free Summer Bridge program four years ago, officials could only dream of providing hundreds of local youths with an opportunity to get out of the house and get some exercise.
This summer, that dream has become a reality with well over 200 children ages 3 to 15, most of them Valley View School District 365U students, spending two hours a day, three days a week, socializing and participating in dozens of fun, exciting activities.
“We’re simply trying to get the kids off the couch and active during the summer,” said DuPage Township Youth Coordinator Kristina Parro, a former Bolingbrook High School honor student who will be a senior at Butler University in the fall.
Parro and her 5-person staff oversee the Summer Bridge children as well as the roughly 75 “volunteer coaches” most of whom come from the ranks of the BHS National Honor Society and the Brooks Middle School Junior National Honor Society.
“It’s awesome that all of these volunteer coaches have dedicated so much time to this program,” Parro said. “We’re building team and leadership skills not only in the young campers but also in the volunteers.”
The Summer Bridge team tries to take children on at least one field trip a week to places like Hidden Oaks, Pelican Harbor, AMF Bowling Lanes, or miniature golfing. The other two days each week they participate in all sorts of different activities including relay races, kick ball, tag, dancing and much more.
To celebrate Independence Day, they created care packages and wrote thank you notes for soldiers.
Parro credits DuPage Township Supervisor Bill Mayer and Township Trustees for having the foresight to create the program for children who live in the township.
“We just want to provide a safe and fun environment for everyone involved,” she said.