Fifth-graders make wreaths in outreach program

Dec. 19, 2012 @ 05:21 PM

Henderson-Vance Recreation and Parks Project Youth Outreach hosted a special Christmas celebration Tuesday afternoon where fifth-grade girls ate pizza and decorated Christmas wreaths.

With an array of brightly colored, holiday themed wreaths, the girls thought long and hard as to which one they wanted to decorate.

“They’re all unique and different,” said Donna Stearns, Henderson-Vance youth services director. “Just like us, we’re not all the same. Everybody’s unique and different.”
According to Stearns, Project Youth Outreach is a community-based program that began in 1985 under the sponsorship of the Henderson-Vance Recreation Department.

“It’s an interpersonal skills group,” Stearns said. “These are fifth-graders from Dabney.

“We’re in several different schools. We’re at Eaton-Johnson, Dabney, Rollins and New Hope, and we also have boys too. They don’t do the wreaths obviously.”

Tara Goolsby, youth services specialist for Project Youth Outreach, has been working with her current groups of girls in and out of school since August.

“We do our sessions once a week during school,” Goolsby said. “Usually what we do, we start the program off at the beginning of the year, and we have each student set goals, things they want to work on during the school year.”

Goolsby follows a set plan of curriculum through a program called Steps to Respect, a bullying prevention program where students start learning conflict management and anger management.

“After every six sessions in school the girls are rewarded with a special trip,” Goolsby said. “Last year we took them to the Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh.”

Sha’Dasia Small, who decorated her wreath with sparkly gold ornaments and a giant red bow, said one of her favorite times with the group was on a trip to Adventure Island two weeks ago.

Tonashia Small, her cousin, decorated a wreath with gold beads, bows and ornaments. She described plans for hanging the wreath out of her cat’s reach once she brought it home.

“I’m going to put it up real high,” Small said. “We’ve got four cats, two girls and two boys.

“We had put our tree up with a whole bunch of decorations and candy canes, and the next day all the stuff was on the floor. We had to put everything up, again.”

Candy Whit, a former member of Project Youth Outreach, has returned to the program as a volunteer, working closely with girls in her former position.

“Most people think it’s for bad kids, but it’s not,” Whit said. “It gives them something to do, and they feel they’re not alone.
“It’s new girls every year. I get to talk to them about different things.

“Every girl has something to talk about.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.