Hawk-Houston summer program

JEREMY WISE / DOTHAN EAGLE

Hawk-Houston Youth Enrichment Center students dance before the beginning of the center’s “end-of-summer” program Thursday.

Altha Newman keeps a heavily earmarked copy of Alveta Houston Hawk’s biography in her office’s front drawer, and the lessons therein guide her organization’s operations.

Nothing provides more proof of that than the Hawk-Houston Youth Enrichment Center’s summer program, which effectively concluded Thursday with a celebration that included a talent show and art gallery. Newman, Hawk-Houston’s executive director, said the center’s summer youth program emulates the best of what the organization offers to the community.

“The summer program … brings life to the building,” she said.

While the enrichment center offers after-school programs, the summer program allows Hawk-Houston leaders more freedom to style the daily activities. The summer activities emphasize the importance of education foremost, likely how Hawk – an educator herself – would have wanted it.

“Our mornings are usually devoted to academics at all levels,” Newman said. “We try to make sure they don’t forget what they’ve learned in the previous grade, (and) they’re better prepared to go into the coming grade.”

But the summer schedule also allows time for a bit of fun, relaxation, and a chance to learn about non-academic subjects.

“It’s summer, so summer should be about fun, as well,” Newman said.

Newman believes introducing the students – 61 in all this summer – to new hobbies helps toward the goal. After postponing a fishing trip due to weather twice this summer, the enrichment center gathered the campers for an outing at Eastgate Park Tuesday.

“Introducing them to a hobby like fishing is good for them, especially the boys,” she said. “If you introduce children introduce to hobbies that are safe and fun, it’s a great stress reliever sometimes. It’s a great outlet.”

The center also organizes biweekly local trips to places like Water World and closes the summer program with one large outing. This year’s final outing visits the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

Newman said Hawk started the program as a way for children to “have fun in a constructive manner,” and she believes the center accomplishes that while providing a great use for a historic building.

“(Hawk) believed great things would come of (the program),” she said. “There have been thousands of kids who’ve come through and done well and credit (the center) for introducing them to a better way of life.”

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