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L.I.F.T. Program celebrates independence

The Linking Infrastructures for Teens (L.I.F.T.) Program celebrated independence and participated in patriotic activities this summer, which included a patriotic essay contest sponsored by The Greenville Advocate.

The L.I.F.T. Program is funded each year by a grant from the Children's Trust Fund. Federal Programs Coordinator and Grant Coordinator Gerry Adair says the program started a few years ago with Title 4 funding being used to begin a summer program for boys.

After the success of the boys' program, Adair said that another class was added. She said the L.I.F.T. Program provides for the alternative school during the school year and provides several activities for young people during the summer.

Some of those activities include field trips, technology training and visitors from the community. Field trips the young people have attended include visits to colleges in Montgomery, Reed State Community College in Evergreen, the Rosa Parks Museum and a walking tour of historical Greenville homes, buildings and monuments.

Adair said the program provides a fun atmosphere in which young people can learn. "The most important part of the program is that it gives children fun activities to do during the summer that further their education and social skills," she said. "They are able to work on academics during the summer but in a fun and hands-on type of way through experimental learning."

Adair said that the program has been a success since its beginning and that it has gained much support from parents, guardians and citizens of the community. "We have received a very positive feedback from parents and they are really supportive of this program," she said.

Parents aren't the only ones supporting this program. Adair said the young people involved have said very positive things about the program. She said that an evaluation conducted last year showed that 98 percent of the young people said they liked the program and wanted to see it continued this year. Ninety-nine percent of the young people said the program helped them in some way.

There are 17 boys and 20 girls involved in the class at this time, with teachers Leander and Lois Robinson and AmeriCorps member Edna Kelly working with the program. Adair said parents and guardians also are involved as often as possible, with family nights usually drawing a large crowd.

Adair said the parents and guardians are kept up-to-date on what the young people are doing in the program and that parents are allowed to provide input into the program. "The parents are informed and any questions they may have are answered," she said.

This summer's classes have focused a lot on patriotism and getting students involved in their community. She said the program also has taught the youngsters life skills such as how to avoid peer pressure. "The kids are at that age when peer pressure starts to become a problem," she said.

The program also teaches young people about juvenile laws of the State of Alabama. "There are a lot of those they don't know," Adair said. "We are teaching the young people about those laws."

She said another important aspect of the program is that it promotes a closer relationship between parents or guardians and targeting at-risk behaviors.

"We have found that with this grant from the Children's Trust Fund, we have been able to target at-risk behaviors," Adair said. "There is now a lower drop-out rate in Butler County, so we feel this grant has improved our community. We have seen really positive things come from this grant and the things that we are doing with this grant."

Adair said that she feels the focus of the program is to "try to link school, home, community and peers," and that the program has been a great success.

For more information about the L.I.F.T. Program or other Butler County summer programs, contact the Butler County Board of Education at 382-2665.