The Housing Authority of the City of Williamson has been providing safe and affordable housing to low-income families since 1938. “The Housing Authority was founded in 1938, under President Roosevelt's New Deal Initiative. The Authority’s Family Resource Center was formally recognized as an EnVision Center in 2020,” says Katie Deaton, with the EnVision Center. EnVision Centers, an initiative of former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, focus on the four pillars of family self-sustainability: economic empowerment, leadership and character, health and wellness, and educational attainment. “Williamson’s EnVision Center hosts afterschool programs, summer camps, literacy programs, food giveaways, drug recovery support groups, job readiness workshops, wellness workshops, and more, in an effort to help families succeed,” Katie says.
This summer, the Williamson Envision Center will be hosting something new for kids in the area: the Kidz Club Summer Camp.
The Kidz Club Summer Camp will focus on STEAM: Science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. “These are fields of study that can and often do intimidate even the brightest student in the room,” Katie says. “Yet every day, more and more career opportunities are available to young adults interested in a career in STEAM.” Often, lower-income kids and their families overlook careers in STEAM, or do not believe a career would be available to them in these fields. Katie, and those she worked with to make this summer club happen, want to change that. “STEAM seemed perfect, as this focus would allow us to show kids what STEAM programs are and give them real life experiences in a safe environment.”
The camp will host 5 different guest speakers, each highlighting a different STEAM career. These speakers will be Police Chief Grady Paul Dotson, Fire Chief Joey Carey, WSAZ Videographer Madi Davis, reptile handler and educator Dr. Des Coveries, and chemistry professor Joshua Johnson. “Each guest speaker will engage the kids in discussions on real life work experiences, and introduce the kids to forensic science, videography, chemistry, and animal husbandry through hands-on activities,” says Katie.
Katie expects Dr. Des to be a favorite among the kids. “They have no idea he is coming, and they are going to be so excited!” She also expects kids to have a hard time naming favorites by the end. “I think that once we get started, we will have a hard time naming our favorite speaker or topic...and I suspect that I will be learning just as much as the kids.”
Staff at the EnVision Center, including Katie, Ashley Justice, and Hannah Jordan, wanted to bring some normalcy to kids after COVID-19. The authority had hosted some summer camps in the past, with great success, so they met with Pauline Sturgill, the Executive Director, to plan the event.
Katie hopes that the camp will be a good opportunity for kids in the area to gain positive learning experiences over the summer. The camp will be scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesdays, and will be supervised.
“We want these kids to see themselves in STEAM careers, and introducing them to science, technology, engineering, art, and math through guest speakers, hands-on experiences, and fun activities can only be a win-win for everyone involved.”
Starting in July Kidz Club Summer Camp will be a 10-day, 5 week camp, with camps hosted on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Want to learn more? Check out the Housing Authority Facebook page, or call 304-235-3270.