“The children were behaved, very inquisitive, and willing to share stories about their family. Many of them already knew about good nutrition because they were learning similar information in school, which was so exciting to hear.” — Tracia Wellman, Mercy Mission Outreach
Mercy Mission Outreach continued its summer camp for school-age children this year, holding it most recently at Mercy Medical Center at St. Paul Square in northeast Canton. The camp, made possible through a Stark Community Foundation Summertime Grant, focuses on four main areas of wellness — exercise, nutrition, hygiene and dental health — for children ages seven to 10.
Fifteen children participated at the St. Paul Square camp, which included for the first time an interactive tour of the StarkFresh Urban Farm. The students experienced vegetable gardening and poultry farming up close.
Other activities included an obstacle course, yoga designed especially for kids, talks by dental assistants from Mercy Dental Services, and a special visit from a Mercy Pet Patrol volunteer who explained the training and purpose of dogs in the health-care setting.
Tracia Wellman, coordinator, Mercy Mission Outreach, said the Pet Patrol dog was a wonderful ice breaker. She says, “Seeing and petting the dog really made the children at ease and comfortable with opening up to the adults in charge of the camp.”
In addition to Pet Patrol volunteers, Mercy Service League and Humility of Mary volunteers assisted. Summer intern Catherine Wietecha helped Mercy Mission Outreach design and implement the program. Campers received free books and a nutritious lunch every day, along with a pedometer, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
“The children were behaved, very inquisitive, and willing to share stories about their family,” says Tracia. “Many of them already knew about good nutrition because they were learning similar information in school, which was so exciting to hear. We also received positive feedback from parents, and one even wanted to donate to the program. Northeast Canton shows many positive signs of community, and it’s been exciting to see our investment there blossom.”
The hospital also offered the camp to upper elementary and middle school children from Canton City Schools. That camp was held at Mercy Medical Center.