The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

May 14, 2011

HEAP kicks off June 6

HUNTSVILLE — When it comes to summer fun, the Huntsville Enrichment Activities Program has a long history.

Now in its 42nd year, HEAP provides a variety of engaging and fun activities – from music to food to karate – to hundreds of local kids every year, and registration is now open for the summer 2011 program that kicks off June 6.

An annual partnership between Huntsville HISD, the city of Huntsville and a group of educators who give up a portion of their summer to continue teaching, HEAP brings together a diverse group of children to learn new skills, participate in educational activities and reinforce life skills.

“It gives them something worthwhile to do in the summertime, and it’s not just recreation. There’s a lot of learning that takes place,” HEAP Director John Fortner said. “These are certified, qualified, caring teachers, and they bring their A game when they come to HEAP. It’s a very enjoyable thing for me to walk around and see these master teachers at work. It kind of makes you want to take the classes yourself.”

Last year’s HEAP sessions drew nearly 400 children, who participated daily in activities like science experiments, karate, cup stacking, outdoor exploring, computer camp and music.

Parents and children can pick up registration forms for HEAP 2011 at all Huntsville ISD elementary schools as well as Huntsville City Hall, the Huntsville Public Library, the Huntsville Item and the Huntsville-Walker County Chamber of Commerce

HEAP offers a pair of two week sessions, and divides participants into two age groups: ages 6 to 9 and ages 10 to 13. Children who will turn 6 before Sept. 1 are eligible to participate, Fortner said.

The cost of the program is $40 per child for a two week session, which includes breakfast, lunch and a snack. Daily sessions run from 8 a.m. to noon at Huntsville Intermediate School, and Fortner noted the Huntsville YMCA will host its own afternoon program for parents interested in giving their students further activities following HEAP.

For Fortner and the more than 20 local educators who work on the program each year, HEAP is about more than just giving kids something to do for half a day. It’s a chance to reinforce the life skills they learn each day from their own families.

“It’s challenging to them. Kids like to be challenged,” Fortner said. “They learn cooperation, common courtesy, respect. In short I really believe that our program increases the quality of their lives. Without realizing it, we’re reinforcing what parents are teaching at home, so that benefits the family too.”

For more information on HEAP, contact Fortner at (936) 661-5551 or (936) 295-1041.

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