Materials provided by the WWU marketing and university relations dept. Posted by Debbonnaire Kovacs, Nov 18, 2015

[Editor’s Note: I was intrigued by an article I saw in the September Gleaner, by Katelyn Sager (see second story, below), and set about getting permission to use it here. When I reached the WWU PR department, not only did they give me permission, but they sent along a second small article. I’ve decided to use both, since they contain enough different material to be interesting together. I added all the links. DLK]

Reaching Out: Versafund grant provides educational opportunities for immigrant children

Walla Walla University, the Children’s Home Society of Washington-Walla Walla, and the Children’s Museum of Walla Walla received a $16,300 consortium grant from Versacare, Inc., to implement a 2015 summer program for immigrant children at the Children’s Museum.

More than 85 children from Walla Walla area Farm Labor Homes attended four workshops held throughout the summer. Workshop classes were divided among themes of science, healthcare, and recycling and sustainability.

Classes included bird identification and building Faraday flashlights with the assistance of Don Riley, professor of engineering, and Fred Liebrand, professor of physics. Tammy Randolph, professor of education, and WWU students from the School of Education taught children about recycling and sustainability by having them haul away junk from a simulated ocean in a junk (flat-bottomed boat) that they constructed out of recycled cardboard, birch branches, and plastic and glass bottles.

The Versafund grant is made available by the California-based company, Versacare, Inc., to implement programs that support and educate children in the fields of health and science.

“A big thanks to Versacare,” said Riley. “Without this grant, the Children’s Museum summer program wouldn’t exist and these kids wouldn’t have the opportunities they do.” Riley said additional donations will enable educational projects to continue once a month throughout the 2015-2016 school year. [Go to WWU website and click Donate in upper right corner.]

Education and Engineering Students Kick Off Summer Program for Kids

By Katelyn Sager, (then)-WWU marketing and university relations writer

Expectant faces look up with smiles stretched ear to ear. Many carry backpacks they received at their last visit that are full of treasures they created themselves. Their outstretched hands reach forward, preparing for their turn with the magnets. The magnets are powerful and must be handled with care. Adults urge them to listen carefully, and the children look intently, expectantly to the front. A magnet is placed in the center of each upturned palm, and the children walk single file throughout the room exploring what the magnets can do.

These children from Washington’s Walla Walla Valley are enjoying the benefits of a $16,000 grant from Versacare Inc. awarded to Walla Walla University (WWU) to implement a 2015 summer program for children at the Children’s Museum of Walla Walla (CMWW)

The grant enables WWU and the university’s community partners to provide educational workshops for low-income immigrant children in Walla Walla. Workshops explore themes of science, health care and recycling. The program is managed by the WWU School of Education and School of Engineering. Community partners include nonprofit organizations that have worked closely with WWU for years, including the Children’s Home Society of Walla Walla (CHSWW), CMWW and Walla Walla General Hospital (WWGH).

Four full days of workshops are held throughout the summer at the Children’s Museum with nine workshops per day. Eighty-seven children gather in three age groups for three workshops that occur simultaneously so everyone gets a turn.

A CMWW employee gives the children an opportunity to express their creativity by giving them wooden dolls, which they paint and bring to life by telling their dolls’ stories.

To teach the importance of putting trash in the proper place, Tammy Randolph, WWU professor of education, has the children pretend to swim their way to a “Chinese junk” — a boat in the backyard of the Children’s Museum — while picking up trash as they swim along.

Randolph explains that the summer program at the Children’s Museum is the realization of her dream to see WWU and the Walla Walla community serve children with a Jesus-like love.

This urging on her heart prompted her to bring the idea of a summer program at the Children’s Museum to the School of Engineering, CHSWW, CMWW and WWGH. Together, they applied for the Versafund grant through Versacare Inc. to make the program possible. The grant was awarded to WWU in January. Versacare Inc. is a Southern California-based company that awards grants primarily to Seventh-day Adventist organizations that have a reasonable plan for implementing programs that support and educate children, especially in the fields of health and science.

WWU and its community partners plan to apply for the Versafund grant again next year in order to continue providing summer programs for immigrant and other disadvantaged children during the summer months.