Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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June 12, 2014

Dunbar continuing to expand its reach

Center’s after-school program adding more activities, curriculum in effort to assist, educate latchkey children

By TYLER MASK

Not too long ago, residents of Mineral Wells began hearing about an after-school program for latchkey kids, the brainchild of former Mineral Wells Mayor Rev. Clarence Holliman.

Paul Lawrence Dunbar After School Program officially opened its doors in February, which means it has been open for approximately four months. But in this short time, things have begun to take off, and the after school program is dreaming big and seeing their dreams come to life.

As originally planned, daily activities include snacks, crafts, stories and organized games to help the children learn to follow the rules, better communicate and develop social skills, PLDASP Director Myra Lawrence said; however, outside of these plans, bigger things are brewing.

Drug and alcohol prevention curriculum is now being taught weekly by STAR Council’s Zoe Hurley, of Stephenville.

Jobs in My Future, a program where the PLDASP invites professionals from within the community to come and talk to the students about their jobs, has begun.

“The intent is to give the underlying message of staying in school, while giving the children a wide array of jobs to choose from when they become adults,” Lawrence said. “The message is that they can have better lives than their families now have by making smart choices. A variety of careers needing college educations and careers with specialized training but no college are introduced to the children.”

So far, fire fighters and emergency medical technicians, a physical therapist, a county extension agent, a pet store manager, a dog trainer and a dog groomer have visited the children.

To make things sweeter, the after-school program has begun incorporating more hands-on learning for the kids as well.

Judy Myers, a piano instructor, comes every week to teach the children piano lessons. Although the program has recently started, some of the kids have already discovered a love for music, Lawrence said.

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