United Way, Powdersville Y to partner with District One on summer camp

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By David Meade
Anderson School District One, the Powdersville YMCA and the United Way of Anderson County are partnering on an innovative summer camp called Camp iRock.
Camp iRock is a top priority program for Anderson School District One and will focus on helping 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders improve their reading skills while having fun at summer camp.
The Town of Williamston hosted a United Way Kickoff Breakfast for the Williamston, Pelzer, West Pelzer community at the Williamston Municipal Center last Friday.
Williamston Mayor Mack Durham, West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders, House Dist. 10 representative West Cox, School District One representatives and others were among those who attended the  event. The United Way of Anderson is helping provide funding for the program which has a goal of $100,000.
Carol Burdett, President & Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Anderson said that all funds raised in the area, will remain in the area. “One hundred percent of the money stays here and will help students in Anderson District One,” she said.
Burdette said that one of the most important things we can support is “our children”.
Pickens County and Powdersville YMCA Director Sid Collins explained how the program provides summer opportunities for children to learn and have fun. “Camp iRock is designed and focuses on closing the achievement gap during the summer months,” he said.  “We fuse academic development, social development to maximize learning and growth.”
The program is designed for rising second and third grade students. It focuses on reading and academics in the morning and fun and social development through recreation activities and field trips, in the afternoon.
The schools also provide breakfast and lunch for attendees.
A similar program has been offered by the Pickens County YMCA for four summers.
Collins said the program is held in the schools with the school district providing teachers and reading coaches. A portion of the funding for the program is provided by the State through Read to Succeed and the United Way provides additional needed funding. The YMCA is the fiscal agent and provides program operations, according to Collins.
The Y also helps with transportation and field trips, he said.
“We are leveraging what is being done in Pickens County so we don’t have to recreate the program. There are efficiencies,” Collins said.
Collins said that summer reading loss is a problem, especially for lower income students, and several District One teachers who spoke at the event agreed.
According to Collins, beginning with kindergarten, students from lower income backgrounds take a step back during the summer months and by grade three, could be an entire grade level behind. Middle and higher income students “at best, stay where they are,” Collins said. He also said that there is such a good result that many of the students that participate are not eligible to participate the next summer.
Palmetto Elementary Principal Amy Cochran said that the program will provide fun and excitement in a safe place and will help in growing and getting students ready.
West Pelzer Principal Amy Bagwell said “These things we are doing are giving them that change.”
Anyone interested in helping support the summer Camp iRock program can do so by contacting the United Way of Anderson County at 864-226-2428 or Carol Burdett at 226-3438, or go to their website at www.unitedwayofanderson.org.