As the school year winds down, final arrangements are being made for what hopes to be an exciting summer for the youth of Cedar Key. The Cedar Key Summer Youth Program, under the direction of Commissioner Sue Colson and Co-Directors Crystal Sharp and Molly Cowart, hopes to educate, as well as, entertain the young people of our island city this summer. The program began over 25 years ago and has continued to be a priority for the City of Cedar Key, receiving much of its financial funding from the city on an annual basis. It also receives help in the way of facilities from a migrant reading program directed by Pam Alexander. Through Mrs. Alexander`s funding, the program is housed in the gymnasium and an adjacent classroom on the Cedar Key School campus. Lunch is also provided in the school cafeteria and will be prepared this year by Sherry Sharp.
This year`s program offers new opportunities for young participants. With guidance from Florida Virtual School Representative and Cedar Key Native DeAnne Watson, students entering high school will be able to take an online guitar class and earn a required performing arts credit. Mrs. Watson recently delivered guitars to an enthusiastic group of students who are eager to begin the program. Another offering will include an in-depth study with esteemed members of the University of Florida Faculty on the effects of sea level rise on our community and will include hands-on lessons which will educate and encourage students in ways that they can be an active part of their community concerns. Cowart and Sharp are relying on the rich talents of the Cedar Key "village" to "raise" and enhance the program this summer.
As with most things these days, the Youth Program is suffering the effects limited funding. The actual dates the program will run this year have been cut by two weeks; this year`s program will begin July 2. This provides a hardship for many working families who depend on this as a safe and inexpensive haven for their children during the summer months. Coordinators are putting out an "S.O.S. - Help Shape Our Summer," asking for assistance from the community in the way of donations to extend and enhance the program. Monetary donations will be greatly appreciated and can be made at the City Hall. Donations of craft and art supplies, snacks, games, and reading materials appropriate for children are most welcomed and appreciated. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to help, please, contact Molly Cowart at 352-543-5463.