Kids First fundraiser to help after-school program

by Michelle Saxton
Wednesday, April 18, 2012

For five years, Wilmington’s Residential Adolescent Achievement Place has served as an after-school enrichment program for middle school students from at-risk or disadvantaged communities, offering them tutoring, mentoring and meals.

WRAAP organizers and supporters planned to celebrate their past achievements and raise money for future operating costs with an April 26 fundraiser on the Henrietta III riverboat in downtown Wilmington.

"Cruisin For Kids" will run from 6 to 9 p.m., with boarding time at 5:30 p.m.

University of North Carolina Wilmington junior Annie Barnes, a Recreation, Sport Leadership and Tourism Management major, helped plan the event as part of a class project.

"It’s a group of kids that I feel like don’t always get the most attention," Barnes said Monday, April 16. "In high school you’ve got all your organized after-school activities or student organizations within high school. And in elementary school they’re the little ones, everybody loves the elementary school kids. And I feel like middle school gets lost in there sometimes."

WRAAP provides supervised activities at Williston Middle School for students in 6th through 8th grades, including homework help, interactive learning, noncompetitive games, health and character education and a food program called Kids Café.

"We’re working with a population that may be at risk for a number of things," WRAAP executive sirector Daryl Dockery said Monday, April 16. "There are some income level issues … and there are a lot of issues that are connected to that, whether it’s low school performance, whether it’s poverty."

WRAAP volunteers include UNCW students, who help plan after-school activities. Barnes is among several students in professor Jeff Nix’s recreation programming class who have helped plan the fundraiser cruise.

"They’ve been exposed to everything from marketing to community engagement strategies to coming up with a fundraising plan and operating a fundraising budget to face-to-face pleas to getting raffles, getting sponsors," Dockery said of Nix’s students.

Teaming up with WRAAP benefits both the middle school students and the college students who become their mentors, Nix said Friday, April 13.

"My students will come in there for one afternoon for two or three hours and the WRAAP kids will see them six months later at a grocery store and they … remember their name and everything," Nix said.

UNCW students get a chance to go out in the field, plan an event and work with children instead of just sitting in a classroom, Nix added.

"They actually get to go out and do something good for the community but also get practical, hands-on experience," Nix said.

Other UNCW students were planning similar events for organizations that include the Town of Leland, the Wilmington Sea Dawgs and Cape Fear River Watch.

"Cruisin For Kids" will include food from Front Street Brewery, refreshments and live entertainment, as well as raffles and a silent auction, organizers said.

Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for youth. Those interested in buying tickets may call (910) 392-6007 or send an email request to ncwraap@gmail.com .

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