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7/5/2012 11:01:00 AM
Passport prompts Grant County children to try new experiences

Eric Price, Chronicle-Tribune

About 6,000 passports were distributed to Grant County elementary school children at the end of the school year. The passports will not admit students to foreign countries, but they might challenge them to broaden their horizons.

County students in kindergarten through sixth grade received “My Summer Passport,” a list of 40 experiences promoting character-building and meaningful interaction between children and caregivers.

Passport experiences include activities such as writing a “Thank You” letter, using a coupon, fixing something that is broken, climbing a tree, memorizing a poem and asking an adult about family history.

“My Summer Passport” is meant to be a preview of a larger passport of 1,000 experiences that will be launched on Aug. 4 at the Synergy 2012 weekend.

Dawn Brown, executive director of The Community Foundation of Grant County, anticipates that children will have an opportunity to complete more than 40 of the larger passport’s experiences by attending the Synergy Family Celebration Day on Aug. 4.

Brown said the activities are designed to model the “40 Developmental Assets” compiled by the Search Institute, an organization researching positive youth development. Brown said the Developmental Assets have yielded positive results in children, such as decreasing violence and school problems while improving grades and school attendance.

“All of these assets help (children) to thrive in very positive ways,” Brown said.

Children may complete activities on the “My Summer Passport” and have an adult check them off with a signature. For every 10 activities completed, the child’s name may be entered in a drawing for one of 100 free plane rides given by local pilots. The drawing will be Aug. 4 at the Synergy Family Celebration Day at Indiana Wesleyan University’s track and field complex.

Jack Brady, professor of criminal justice at IWU, helped coordinate plane rides for the drawing. He said plane rides will be given at Marion Municipal Airport on two consecutive Saturdays following the Aug. 4 drawing.

Brady said for several years he had wanted to offer children the opportunity to ride in a plane because it provides them with a new experience.

Connie Rose, director of Family Service Society, said they have been fielding students’ questions about the passport. Rose said one girl called wanting to know where children would go on their plane ride, then she called the next day and wanted to know if it would be a “real” plane ride with a flight attendant and food.

“(The children) are really getting into this,” Rose said.

She said parents are also finding the passport experiences to be meaningful and fun.

Dawn Brown said local school children, Boys and Girls Club members, Project Leadership students and others in the community helped compile the passport activities. She said the activities are simple, fun and kid-friendly.

“Anybody (can) do (these activities) to broaden (his or her) life experiences,” Brown said.

Related Stories:
• Synergy 2012 focuses on poverty in Grant County

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