By Anne Heaney
Children in Bessemer are getting a chance this summer to sharpen their educational skills through activities including math and reading exercises and advice from local entrepreneurs on the basics of successfully running a business.
The Happy Healthy Hard Elementary Summer Camp is free of charge and available to students in third, fourth and fifth grades.
This camp is an initiative of the Bessemer Building Healthy Communities coalition, supported by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC). The camp addresses the community’s request for a program to help with raised garden beds at Charles F. Hard Elementary School.
Hard Elementary School and Bessemer City Schools are partnering with the coalition to host students for Triple H Summer Camp from now through July 9.
The Triple H Summer Camp engages with campers at every level — school, work, community and home. At the camp, students are involved with math and reading exercises, cooking and recreational demonstrations, and artistic and musical activities. Campers will also receive tips and advice from local entrepreneurs on the basics of successfully running a business. This well-rounded curriculum is designed to keep campers engaged in learning during the summer.
Principal investigator Lori Brand Bateman, Ph.D., R.D., explained: “This gives us a great opportunity to pilot some interventions and work with the school.” Also, part of the program is Brand Bateman, an assistant professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine and MHRC investigator.
The summer camp includes Healthy Happy Kids, a program that teaches campers that good nutrition and an active lifestyle help them lead healthier lives. Campers learn about what their bodies need to stay healthy, the importance of staying active and maintaining a healthy diet, and information about each of the five food groups. They will also be introduced to nutritious snacks they can easily make at home and get the chance to grow their own produce at the raised garden beds at the school.
“We’ve seen firsthand how beneficial the Healthy Happy Kids program has been,” said Tiffany Osborne, director of Community Engagement for the MHRC. “We’re excited to be able to introduce even more children to one of our most popular initiatives.”
To reach the home, the camp is offering training for parents every Wednesday throughout the duration of the camp. These sessions provide parents with the resources they need to incorporate healthy habits into their children’s lives. Sessions cover topics such as awareness of safety concerns for children in the community, job readiness, life coaching and how to be mindful of their children’s mental wellness.
“We’re supporting a community-led effort where people are starting to take accountability for their neighbors and be more involved in positive ways,” said educational liaison Erin Carley. “The community service element of the camp will help bridge the gap between the youth and their community. This, in turn, will connect the campers to those around them.”
Financial support for the summer camp comes from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the UAB MHRC Young Professionals Board.