By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Local nonprofit Community After School Program (CASP) celebrated it’s 40th year Saturday with family fun and food at Crosspointe Church.
Children jumped around in the bounce houses, made their way through obstacle courses and fixed up hot dogs to celebrate the longevity of the program, which is available at all 17 of Norman’s elementary schools.
“We’re so excited to have a good turnout,” said CASP Executive Director Terri Craig.
The event also featured a book walk and each child would be able to go home with a free book in their reading level. They also planned to give away around 100 CASP T-shirts at the event, Craig said.
“The business community benefits greatly (from CASP),” she said, adding that children stay in a safe environment after school with the program.
Board member Linda Irons has been involved in the program since it started in 1974. She said as a working mother, working until 5 p.m., her daughter was able to stay at the school in a safe place while she finished her work day.
“It was wonderful,” Irons said. “I loved it.”
Board member Debi Harris, who is also a Norman Police Department detective, said the program is also great for keeping children out of trouble after school.
The program is only one of about four options in the community for school-aged children to do after school, Craig said. It also keeps parents more aware of how their children are doing with school work because when parents pick their children up after the program, they are able to communicate with CASP tutors.
“They (the tutors) have way more contact with parents than most teachers do,” Craig said.
The program is currently serving 150 students in Norman Public Schools, she said. Tutors volunteer three hours of their time, five days a week to help make the program possible. Last year volunteers tutored a total of 2,601 hours.
Many of those volunteers showed up Saturday to help out at the anniversary event, as well as board members, volunteers from OU’s Academic Integrity Office and the ATO fraternity.
There are tuition fees for the program, but there is a sliding scale so they can work with each individual family and Craig said they give away about $30,000 in scholarships to children in need so no child goes without care.
CASP receives funding by United Way and AmeriCorps and partners with the city of Norman and Norman Public Schools.
Some facts displayed at the event provided by CASP included:
· Between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex
· Participation in the afterschool program improves students’ school attendance and performance
· Principals frequently say afterschool programs are one of the reasons for school improvement
· 87 percent of working mothers polled said that the hours after school are when they are most concerned about their children’s safety
For more information about CASP visit www.caspinc.org.
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