Kids on Campus coordinators and students pictured with CHSP Dean Randy Leite

Kids on Campus coordinators and students seen pictured with CHSP Dean Randy Leite

Photographer: Abby Leppert

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Kids on Campus celebrates 20 years

Coordinators, university leaders and roughly 300 excitable but well-behaved elementary, middle and high school students from Kids on Campus gathered in Grover Center Thursday, July 14 to blow out the candles on 20 years of successful summer programming.

CHSP Dean Randy Leite, Kids on Campus Program Manager Jo Ellen Sherow, and a former Kids on Campus student spoke to the collection of kids seated on the floor of Grover Center Atrium. Candles were later blown out on a large cake as well-wishers sang “Happy Birthday.”

“We want to thank everyone for continuing to support this program that means so much to the region,” Sherow said. Sherow assumed her role as program manager earlier this summer.

Kids on Campus is a community-university partnership under the umbrella of CHSP and tasked with providing food, programming and educational resources for at-risk or underserved kids in surrounding area school districts during the summer months when they are away from school. They additionally manage an after-school program in the same local districts.

“I’m so excited to see the program carry on to this day,” said Kids on Campus founder Anne Teske. “In my professional career, I think it’s what I’m most proud of. It’s my star achievement.”

Teske launched the summer program in 1996 after identifying the need for a community-based solution to the problems of malnutrition and food insecurity for many at-risk students in local districts during the summer months.

“We noticed that some kids would come back thinner in the fall,” Teske said. “We looked it up and saw that these same kids qualified for free or reduced lunches during the school year, and we thought, ‘How are these kids getting fed in the summer?’ We had to do something about it.”

Jennifer Mattson, a current student at Bluffton University and former Kids on Campus participant, applauded the program’s success.

“It’s so good for the kids to be on campus seeing college-age kids pursuing their goals,” Mattson said. “It’s important they know that if you work hard, you can do anything.”

Local companies Shagbark Seed and Mill and Frog Ranch Foods donated chips and salsa for the kids’ lunches. Kids enjoyed slices of cake at the conclusion of the event.