After The Bell: AmeriCorps Training

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by CHRIS FLANAGAN

WFAA

Posted on June 9, 2010 at 11:39 AM

DALLAS - AmeriCorps is often referred to as the "domestic Peace Corps." Hundreds of Dallas children wouldn't be able to enjoy summer camp, if it was it wasn't for this dedicated group, made up of mostly college students.

The AmeriCorps members are on their feet, training for 30 hours, which includes a lot of fun and games, to serve as summer staff in free and low-cost summer programs, all across Dallas.

"I'm like really learning lots of new games, new things to do with the kids. Just like simple things, like learning their names, you know. Just to be personal with the kids is so much fun because you just don't know these things," said Nikki Laster, a sophomore at UNT.

Thanks to a grant received by Central Dallas Ministries, these AmeriCorps members will be placed in summer and after-school programs that are members of the Dallas AfterSchool Network, for free of charge.

One of those programs is the Heart House Dallas.

"We couldn't do it without them, we really couldn't. With budget cuts and everything like that, it's so great to have people there that are there for service. They are not there for a paycheck, they're not there because they have to be," said Heart House program director, Kelly Cushing.

These AmeriCorps members will serve a minimum 300 hours this summer. They are now ready to go after Saturday's official swearing-in ceremony by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert.

By attending the program, many of the college students said they have a better understanding of how kids respond to how they act.

Each AmeriCorp member receives an $1,800 stipend and a $1,000 education award to use for school or to pay off a student loan. Most say they do it because they love being around kids and want to give back to the community.

E-mail: cflanagan@wfaa.com

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