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Healthy fun hits The Spot
Youths help their garden grow in Live Oak
WHAT: The Spot's Summer Program
WHEN: 9-10 a.m. Tuesdays at the garden; 9-10 a.m. Thursdays at The Spot; through July 26
WHERE: Garden located at the corner of N and Apricot streets, Live Oak; The Spot located at 10720 Live Oak Blvd., Live Oak
CONTACT: Sandra Hannaford, 695-2100
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THE SPOT'S SUMMER PROGRAM?
Samantha Kruse, 10: "Watching plants grow."
Kyle Taylor, 6-1/2: "Watering plants."
Jessica Belden, 10: "I really enjoy planting and watering."
Jose Becerra, 10: "The fun!"
Roxy Lopez, 9: "Watching seeds grow."
Rosie Lopez, 9: "Planting all sorts of seeds."
When school doors close for the summer, kids in Live Oak are often left with few choices to spend the bright summer days. Some may attend summer camp, summer school or head for the pools, yet one organization is offering a fun alternative.
The Live Oak Community Resource Center — "The Spot" — has partnered with the city of Live Oak with grant aid from Union Pacific Railroad to begin a local community garden.
Plots have been set aside for youths in grades third and up to plant and care for various plants through The Spot's Summer Program. Although the Summer Program has been a part of Live Oak summers for several years, this is the third year where an emphasis has been placed on gardening and healthy living.
Starting June 14, youths began planting seeds and learning about the basics of plant care and the importance of insects.
Sandra Hannaford, director of The Spot, explained, "Youths will be rewarded with being able to taste the end product of their physical labor; that's something that not all kids experience."
In addition to the community garden, youths in the Summer Program meet at The Spot to learn about exercise, portion control and nutrition in the form of games and cooking classes.
"They will be actively involved in what they put into their bodies and how to make the best choices," Hannaford said. Produce from the garden will be harvested and given to local families and food banks as well, providing an avenue for community service.
Even older adolescents enjoy working with younger kids with the garden.
Saman Riaz, 18, said, "I've been involved for many years, but now I've moved from being a participant to helping out with activities."
Cassidy Williams, 17, said, "I offer my time whenever it's needed. After graduation, Sandee (Hannaford) asked me to help with the garden."
By the end of the program on July 26, passers-by will see a lush garden brimming with colorful vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers through the efforts of youths and their adult support.
"Our goal is for youths to become knowledgeable and healthy citizens. We are 'growing people,'" Hannaford added.