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home : schools : othello school district May 25, 2016

8/20/2014 2:55:00 PM
Hey Kids wraps up its summer with a bang
Photo by Erik PagueTwo Hey Kids participants play around during the program's final party held at Desert Havens Apartments Wednesday, Aug. 6.
Photo by Erik Pague
Two Hey Kids participants play around during the program's final party held at Desert Havens Apartments Wednesday, Aug. 6.

Erik Pague

Last week, Hey Kids finished its 19th summer with two separate parties at the Desert Havens Apartments, wrapping up two months of activities, including fishing, a trip to Camp Gifford and tours of the Columbia Wildlife Refuge. Almost 200 children participated this year, which meant a lot of new friends being made but also a bittersweet ending for participants like Anabelen Rico.
Rico, a 10-year-old who has been going to Hey Kids since she was 5, said the highlight for her was the fishing trip to the Columbia Fish Hatchery in June and was sad to have to be saying goodbye. She hopes to see some familiar faces when she returns to class at Scootney Springs Elementary School in a few weeks.
Another big event for the kids - and a first for the program - was a visit from the firefighters of Adams County Fire District 5 who gave kids a tour of their trucks. Like years in the past, the Othello Police Department was also involved and Hey Kids program coordinator Jasmine Suarez said they even set up some drag races using their radar detectors.
The Read Up program was a new addition this summer and it provided kids with free books while volunteers Dwight and Janie Ballestrasse contributed all the t-shirts kids got. Other volunteers like Jane Grant used her expertise as a birder to help the kids absorb the sights at the wildlife refuge while guys like Alan Hanks and Dave Anderson cooked on the grill during the party and helped behind the scenes.
Hanks is a founding member of Hey Kids almost 20 years ago while he was working for the Othello Housing Authority and said it's incredible how great the program has been all this time.
"I think any community program that can run for 20 years that helps kids has got to be good because most things don't last that long," he said. "We've had kids who have virtually grown up in the Hey Kids program. They start when they're 6 or 7 years old and they do it until they're teenagers and then they become mentors for the little kids."
Sticking with the program and being a good role model for younger kids pays off as many 9-years-old and older participants are eligible for helper parties where they get free pizza for setting a good example.
"Kids who attended every week and have shown good character and behavior get to attend and they get really excited, as well," Suarez said.

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