Waupaca program for third, fourth graders
By Angie Landsverk
A new after school program combines reading and recreation.
Rec ‘N Read is offered from 3:30-5 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Waupaca Recreation Center.
The program, which is open to third and fourth graders, is coordinated by Paula Reedy.
For close to 15 years, Reedy has worked in the Children’s Department at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
“I see kids whose parents are readers have to pull books away (from their children) to get them outside and then others who play but don’t read,” she said.
Reedy is the mother of two grown sons, who enjoyed being both active and reading when they were youngsters.
Rec ‘N Read allows children to do both.
Children spend the first 30 minutes of the after school program reading, followed by 45 minutes of physical activity.
The program ends around 4:45 p.m., so children are ready to be picked up at the center by their parents by 5 p.m.
The program was Reedy’s idea, and she coordinates it.
Reedy explained how she came up with the idea.
“Part of my job at the library is programming for children,” she said.
In addition, staff members are encouraged to work with other members of the community.
The library’s theme this year is “Exercise Your Mind.”
After Reedy came up with the idea, she talked to Children’s Librarian Sue Abrahamson about it.
Abrahamson liked it, and Reedy then discussed her idea with Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Jenson.
Following that meeting, Reedy met with Recreation Programmer Andrew Whitman to set program goals.
Information about the program was sent home to parents of third and fourth graders through the school district.
In addition, there are flyers about it at the rec center and library.
“So if children are homeschooled, they may also come,” Reedy said.
Rec ‘N Read began at the rec center last month.
About 30 students attended the program its first week, and Reedy said parents may continue to sign their children up for it.
The third and fourth graders are able to ride a bus from Waupaca Learning Center to the rec center.
Students are to bring reading materials, nutritious snacks and gym shoes.
Members of the Waupaca High School Student Council volunteer each week and help Reedy supervise it.
Reedy likes to plan two or three different physical activities each week and also asks the students what games they like to play.
The school district is supportive of the program and lends equipment to Reedy for Rec ‘N Read.
Both library and park and rec staff are pleased the program is being offered.
“I’m just so delighted that Paula’s great idea has taken off so well. For years, we’ve heard parents tell us that they have difficulty finding time for reading, yet many are involved in sports,” Abrahamson said.
Since Reedy’s children were physically active, she understands firsthand the plight of many families, she said.
“Conversely, we hear other parents say they have to rip the book from their child’s hands to force them to go out to play. Rec ‘N Read is the perfect program for both types of families,” Abrahamson said. “We have been working more cooperatively with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department over the past few years. This is one more example of ways our two departments can meet the needs of area families.”
Jenson said, “After seeing the first couple weeks of this program, I think Paula has organized a very good thing. She has kids attending who are engaged and having fun. Paula is one of the library’s many assets, and we are happy that she is able to provide a good program in our facility.”
Whitman said there is a need for after school programs in the community.
“We’re happy that we’re able to provide an opportunity for the library to hold a program like this here,” he said.
Reedy said students who attend Rec ‘N Read are expected to follow “The Waupaca Way.”
That means they are to be respectful, responsible, safe and prepared.
Christa Hemmila’s daughter, Claire, was among the students who attended Rec ‘N Read on Jan. 26.
“I like the fact that it combines both reading and physical activity,” Hemmila said. “It’s good for children to be more active in the winter months when it’s cold outside.”
Rec ‘N Read runs through Tuesday, April 26.
It is not being held on Tuesday, March 22, or Tuesday, April 5.
Those who have questions about the program may contact Reedy at the library at 715-258-4417.
She already has more ideas to further enhance the program and plans to evaluate Rec ‘N Read with others after its first year.
“Hopefully, if it goes well, we can do it again next year,” Reedy said.