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Leetsdale offers summer kids activities

June 2, 2018 GMT

Leetsdale hasn’t held summertime activities for children in Henle Park for at least five years, according to Judy Fulton. But starting this month, the Leetsdale Recreation Board is bringing educational programming back — and this time the activities will be locally organized.

The six programs in the park, held throughout the months of June, July and August will teach children skills like gardening, acting, aquaponics and dog etiquette. All programs, led by members of the recreation board and other community leaders, offer children a hands-on, fun learning environment that encourages them to interact with others of a similar age.

“As a parent, I know that kids really start to lose a lot over the summer if they’re not engaged and not involved, and teachers spend a lot of time once school goes back into session catching up, trying to catch up from where they left off at the end of the previous semester,” said Fulton, who serves on the recreation board.

Although Fulton does not have young children herself, three other women on the board do, and they wanted to put something together this summer, she said. The volunteers leading the programs have designed the activities for children ages 5 to 8, but Fulton doesn’t want that to discourage anybody.

“We’re being a little bit flexible, people are calling and saying they’ve got a 4 or 3-year-old, they’re potty-trained and they’ve been going to preschool, so I’m saying yes, because I want to make sure I get as many kids as possible,” Fulton said.

Children should benefit from the expertise of the program leaders. One recreation board member, Maria Napolitano, will lead the “Cultural Day — Russian Dolls” event. She plans to share with local children the same educational program she helped develop while working for CultureALL, a multicultural education nonprofit in Des Moines, Iowa.

“In the end, the children, with the help of their parents will be able to make their own traditional Russian dolls,” Napolitano said. “They will be able to take it home with them.”

The “Safe Dog Program,” led by Phyllis Belcastro, will bring in experienced dog owners and canines.

“There will be certified therapy dogs and owners from the Beaver County Kennel Club interacting with the children during this instructional and fun hour,” said Belcastro.

The timing of each activity, according to Fulton, coincides with the daily hours of Henle Park’s splash pad, which operates from noon to 6 p.m.

Even though past summer programs eventually lost momentum, the recreation board hopes this new opportunity benefits both children and parents.

“Leetsdale’s a wonderful town, and we hope to make it even more appealing for young families with children. That’s our goal on the recreation board,” Napolitano said.

Sam Bojarski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.