With a booming voice, Ron Whitted was excited about showing local parents and students a few taekwondo moves. For a brief moment, he had the opportunity to teach confidence when he asked youngsters to break wooden boards with kicks.
The martial arts session is just one of several enrichment activities held during UPLIFT’s Parents’ Night, which was recently held at Hobbton Middle School. It allowed parents and their children the opportunity to get a little taste of what UPLIFT offers. Some of the station included Zumba and Art.
“I think it’s a real good program and I wish more schools would offer it,” Whitted said about the enrichment opportunities offered through the program. “I enjoy working with kids and they learn quick. It’s not all about punching and kicking. They learn about discipline, good manners, how to focus, self control and techniques against bullying.”
More than 200 people attended the event, which included participation from schools in Sampson County Schools. UPLIFT stands for “Using Positive Lessons to Improve Future Tomorrows.” It’s operated through Project Outreach, Inc. which was established in the late 1990s as a nonprofit organization. The purpose is to provide programs to increase educational growth, enhance social skills and conflict resolving using nonviolent methods.
Glenn Faison, executive director of Project Outreach, was excited about the event.
“We wanted to let the parents experience and participate in what their children do from an enrichment perspective,” Faison said.
UPLIFT, a 21st Century Afterschool Program, receives funding through federal money. It provides academic activities during the school year, weekends and during the summer. Through the program, students participate in activities such as music, art, reading, language arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Charlotte Murphy, curriculum and liaison coordinator for the project, also shared with parents how the program is on track with North Carolina Common Core Standards.
During the event, Faison said participation was encouraged during the event. The program serves four schools: Hargrove Elementary, Hobbton Elementary, Hobbton Middle School and Midway Middle School.
“Tonight we had them all mixed up, so they’re not with someone they’re comfortable with,” Faison said. “That way, everybody can still be excited, meet new people and make some new friends.”
Faison said the program is growing at each school and parents are acquiring about enrollment. There’s about 170 students enrolled in the program.
“We have a cutoff number, but hopefully moving forward we can increase that number,” Faison said.
During the event Brian Gay of Mad Science, Inc. talked to children about dry ice. The cold dense white mist made from carbon dioxide, is always a favorite with students. Mad Science is an enrichment program which provides hands-on science experiences for children, in an entertaining way.
“It’s a lot of fun, I enjoy coming out,” Gay said. “They’re really eager to learn.”
Matthew Lee, a local seventh grader at Midway Middle School, is one of many students who benefits by attending the UPLIFT program and participating in activities such as Mad Science. His father, Willie Lee participated in the activities.
“I see why the kids like going to UPLIFT,” Willie said. “It’s enjoyable for kids and parents. You can learn a lot and get physically fit at the same time. It’s a good thing.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.