Instead of wasting away the summer in front of the TV, Huntsville children can spend it getting some exercise and fresh air with the 37th annual Huntsville Enrichment Activities Program (HEAP).

The program will run in two two-week sessions, running Monday through Friday June 5-15 and June 19-29, from 8 a.m. to noon.

“The broad base of activities and the quality of teaching combine to provide a variety of life skills and character-building lesson,” HEAP director John Fortner said. “It’s more than just activities, because we use the activities as a vehicle to teach a lot of different character qualities, team building, decision making and problem solving.”

The six- to nine-year-olds have nine activities to choose from, like schoolyard games, music and drama, mad science, team sports, indoor games, fun with food, imagination station, twirling and crafts.

Each activity lasts one hour each day.

The ages 10-13 group will have 12 activities to choose from, thanks to four new classes.

“We’ve reintroduced golf as a program and that will be taught by Marcus Evans, the varsity golf coach at the high school,” Fortner said. “Karate will be taught by a ranking black belt. Digital photography will be included in the program for the first time and Phil Kiser, who is the technology specialist at the intermediate school, will be teaching that class.”

Indoor games will also be available for the first time, joining computer camp, drama, sports activities, shooting sports and orienteering, tennis, art, twirling and nature discovery.

Class size is limited to 16 and is available on a first-come first-serve basis.

Each two-week session costs $40 and includes a t-shirt, as well as free breakfast and lunch on class days.

Most of the classes take place at Huntsville Intermediate, but Fortner said a few will go to an alternate location if the activity calls for it.

“Our venue is based at the intermediate school, but we use a lot of school facilities,” he said. “We use the weight room, track and outdoor learning center at the high school and Scott Johnson’s nature trail, cafeteria and music rooms.

“We’re really blessed with our facilities, but the thing that makes it work is the quality of the staff. We have 22 teachers and these are certified, qualified teachers. Most of them have 10 years or more of experience, so we have almost 230 years of experience.”

While HEAP lasts until noon, Fortner said they have a partnership with the Huntsville Family YMCA, which runs a program in the afternoon.

Applications can be picked up at the Huntsville-Walker County Chamber of Commerce, Huntsville Public Library, Huntsville City Hall, HISD’s Hawkins Administration Building, Huntsville Intermediate School and all of the HISD elementary schools.

For more information, Fortner can be reached at (936) 295-1041 or (936) 661-5551.

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