South Reading youth discover how they can ‘save’ the Earth


Alvernia’s Holleran Center for Community Engagement conducted its fourth annual Junior Creativity Camp in July. Twenty-five 7-10 year-old campers spent a week exploring this year’s theme “On Land, Sea, and Air: Being a Superhero for the Earth.”

Creativity campers had a chance to decide how they could exhibit Superhero qualities, especially when interacting with the environment. They made recycled projects while learning what they could do to help make our planet a better place.

During the week-long adventure, the group of 25 participants visited Hawk Mountain to gain an up-close understanding of a nature preserve (and to search the sky for hawks), and traveled to Camden, NJ to tour the Camden Aquarium, and see what the marine biologists have done to create a magical environment for the aquatic life. 

A closing ceremony held at St. Peter’s Church on South Fifth Street provided an opportunity for camp participants to be recognized for their participation and achievements during camp by local community leaders.

Most Junior Creativity Campers are active participants in the South Reading Youth Initiative — a signature program of the Holleran Center for Community Engagement. Dr. Debra Greenawald, assistant professor of nursing at Alvernia, served as the faculty instructor for camp, and was assisted by Holleran Center staff Christopher Fake (South Reading Youth Initiative Program Manager), Jessica Umbenhauer (Project Coordinator), and Ginny Hand (Director, Holleran Center). Alvernia students Heather Shainline, Danielle Cortes, and Kerry Boyle also joined the staff team.

The South Reading Youth Initiative (SRYI), a free program designed for youth aged 7-14 who live or go to school in the South Reading area, provides after-school and summer programming supported by faculty, staff and students of Alvernia University. These programs have been generously supported by federal and state grants as well as local funders. Founded in 2006, the SRYI aims to promote continued education, mentoring and support for healthy choices through exposure to arts, culture and educational opportunities within Greater Reading.

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