LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Upstairs at the PARK, or Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids, facility, Brianna Houze was creating a vision board for her future.
“I want to be a cosmetologist and major in makeup,” the 16-year-old said.
Houze has been coming to PARK for the past four years.
“It’s great. When I first came, I was very introverted. I was very quiet. I didn’t talk to anybody that I didn’t know,” Houze said.
Now the incoming Mills University Studies High School student is thriving at PARK and in school. She credited PARK for this change. Former NFL Star Keith Jackson started PARK in the 90s. It is an after-school program kids can join the summer before their 8th or 9th grade year. The perfect candidate is a mid-level student in school who has the potential to be able to succeed with the right tools. After completing the five-year program, students qualify for in-state scholarships. During the summers, they participate in a six-week program.
“We want to keep the students occupied, but also we want to continue to offer those incentives and those motivational pieces for the students,” Program Director Tamra Calamese said.
The summer program allowed the kids a chance to continue sharpening their educational skills, while also adding in a sprinkle of fun by doing things like science projects.
“We want to be able to equip them so that they are well prepared for the next school year, but then we also want to give them something that they can look forward to, that they can be excited about,” Calamese said.
The goal of the summer program is to gain enough points to go on the big field trip at the end of the program. Some of the PARK students will go to Six Flags in Dallas and another group will head to Magic Springs.
Click here for more information on PARK.