Fun City Youth Academy unveils Saturday program

Saturday, January 29, 2011 | 8:33 p.m. CST; updated 5:08 p.m. CST, Monday, January 31, 2011

COLUMBIA — Fun City Youth Academy unveiled its new Saturday Youth Academy program Saturday at the Blind Boone Center.

The program is designed to help children ages 5 to 18 with schoolwork and with developing important life skills. It includes educational and homework assistance, discussion segments and physical activity.


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“The program has a holistic approach to assist and provide services for children,” said Joan Hardaway, the program coordinator.

Hardaway also mentioned the program’s emphasis on culture. Children learn to play certain instruments and have time for arts and crafts.

“We try to instill values of culture and community service,” said Mary Rodriguez, a program manager.

Children in the program are encouraged to follow a set of principles that are derived from Kwanzaa traditions, said Nia Imani, president of the board of directors for Fun City Youth Academy.

These principles are called Nguzo Saba, or the Seven Principles, and include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.  

Imani said each week discussions will relate to one of the principles. She said the principles all tie into family and are easily relatable.

“For cooperative economics we might say, you know you can’t buy these $200 shoes and still be able to feed your family,” Imani said.

Program directors also emphasized the academy should be fun.

“We want children to see school not as work but as something that can be fun too,” Imani said.

The program does this, in part, by having a set time for physical activity. Children ages 5 to 11 stay close to the facilities and play various games and activities there.

Hardaway said the physical portion of the academy for children ages 12 to 18 will take place at Key Largo Fitness and Tanning, which has volunteered its facilities.

“We hope that they’ll be learning and not necessarily know it,” Rodriguez said.

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