CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 17, 2015 – The Horizons Summer Youth Enrichment Program at Southeast Missouri State University wrapped up last week, propelling groups of children ages 5-14 into what may be their future career paths.
The Horizons program offers children a fun way to develop skills not covered in the traditional classroom or summer camp. They are able to explore various fields and the responsibilities of professionals in their dream careers, be it engineering, entrepreneurship, pottery, fashion design or zoology, to name a few. Each course uses a hands-on approach to learning that incorporates laboratory experiments and physical activity.
“This is my fourth year doing the robotics classes with Horizons,” said Jeremy Griffin, an instructor with Southeast’s department of Polytechnic Studies. “I love seeing how excited the kids get when building their robots to complete the given challenges. The creativity in the kids is inspiring and drives me to continue teaching these classes.”
The majority of workshops are taught by Southeast faculty, giving participants a chance to “experience a bit of Southeast,” said Christina Mershon, assistant director of Extended and Continuing Education at Southeast.
“We also have a number of community members who are experts in their various fields who help make our camps unique,” continued Mershon. “This partnership has allowed us to do things like allow children to interact with zebras and giraffes at Lazy L Safari Park and, in past years, visit the SEMO Crime Lab as they solve their own case and become certified ‘Southeast CSI.’”
New programs are added each year along with returning favorites to keep current with the kids’ interests.
“Every year we work to change the camps up a bit. We try to stay current on our themes and follow the trends that kids are into. This year, that led us to create new camps like the “Frozen Summer Art Workshop” where the warm weather outside didn’t stop campers from creating a frozen landscape or meeting their favorite princess,” said Mershon. “We also try to take advantage of new University spaces and resources. From climbing walls to art studios and, this year, the awesome new Catapult: Creative House, we are fortunate to have awesome facilities to use for our program.”
One of this year’s camps utilizing new university space explored the entrepreneurial side of fashion. “Launch Your Line!” taught youngsters the ins and outs of fashion line development – from finding inspiration and creating a design to selecting the fabric and sewing together the final product which they merchandised and sold within the Catapult retail space.
Prior to the retail sale, participants got to strut their clothing and accessory designs down the runway for a fashion show at Catapult. “Launch Your Line!” instructor and Catapult Creative House operations manager, Leah Powers, said this was the youths’ favorite part of the weeklong class.
“They were really excited for the fashion show. All week built up to that event,” said Powers. “They got to see how all the bits and pieces fit together and show off everything they made.”
During the sale, the future Fashionistas had to pitch their product to potential customers, pointing out what made their piece unique, sharing their inspiration and tying it all together with the design board they made on the first day of class.
“They were talking about their designs to everyone and we pulled out the design boards and they explained how it influenced them throughout the entire week…seeing them come to that realization near the end was the highlight for me,” said Powers.
“‘Launch Your Line!’ was a really good experience,” she continued. “I had fashion merchandising students helping all week long. It was good getting them involved and seeing what the University is doing and what their career can be in an industry where people don’t usually see the business side.”
With three-fourths of the classes at full capacity and numerous accolades from parents, this was another successful year for the Horizons Summer Youth Enrichment Program.
“Take a look at our Facebook page…check out the faces and the excitement you can see on them. That is the highlight every year!” Mershon said.
Mershon suggests joining the mailing list and registering early for next year. She welcomes any suggestions for new programs.