Editor's note: The following is a press release from .
Summertime means fun time for nearly 120 elementary school students enrolled in DuPage Township’s Summer Bridge Program at Bulldog Park in .
Summer Bridge, designed to keep children fit and moving during summer break, was launched last year through a partnership that included Bolingbrook Resident Toni Greathouse, DuPage Township’s Youth Director Anthony Morelli, and Chris Martner of the . This year, the Township has taken the lead.
“Our goal is to get the kids away from video games, off the couch and outside,” said DuPage Township Youth Director Anthony Morelli. “Plus, we have such a diverse community that this is a great way to get them together to play and socialize and become friends.”
Jackie Smith, the Township’s summertime assistant to the youth director, is back for a second year as Summer Bridge on-site coordinator, while fellow grad Kristina Parro is assisting. Also on hand are 42 BHS National Honor Society members who are volunteering their time to work with the children.
“They are the best,” Smith said. “They’re out here interacting with the kids, playing with them as opposed to supervising them. They’re really helpful. We’re thankful for them.”
Summer Bridge meets for two hours three days a week.
“Although we still start the day with some calisthenics, we took out most of the jumping jacks per se from last year and incorporated more play games like dodge ball,” Morelli said. “That’s the best way to keep their enthusiasm. If you make it too much like a class, it tends to not be as fun for them.”
Morelli credits DuPage Township officials with their foresight in supporting such a program.
“In order to make this work, you have to have a board that really believes in what we’re doing,” he said. “Our Board of Trustees and Supervisor William Mayer believe in taking a proactive approach with youth by keeping them active and involved. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Morelli added that Linda Youngs, assistant to the supervisor, has been invaluable in helping the program to succeed.
Even though this year’s program doesn’t end until the first week in August, Morelli and his team are already thinking about next year’s Summer Bridge Program.
“We’d like to double in size again and have multiple locations,” he said. “I’d like to get us toward Romeoville.”