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Summer programs coming

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Students in the area who have nothing to do this summer will have another option starting Monday.

The Theo Ratliff Activity Center &8212; along with the Jones Recreation Center &8212; will begin offering their summer programs that so many area children and teenagers look forward to each year.

Edward Ward, director of the Theo Ratliff Center couldn&8217;t be more excited.

Last year&8217;s attendance, over the course of the eight-week program reached somewhere around 200 participants.

For as low as 25 cents per day, youngsters can enjoy an Olympic-sized swimming pool at the Jones Recreation Center, or opt to get creative with Emma Gibbs and her staff at the arts and crafts camp.

On top of the programs added just for summer, the Ratliff Center will continue to offer its programs that are offered year-round.

There is no cost for children taking advantage of the year-round programs at the Ratliff Center; the only time a cost is incurred is for the swimming pool and the arts and crafts camp.

While at the pool, children who do not yet know how to swim can take advantage of lessons taught by Red Cross certified lifeguards.

On July 15-16, Theo Ratliff will be in town for the possibly the most anticipated event of the summer: the Theo Ratliff Basketball Camp, which will be held at the Ratliff Center.

This year&8217;s camp promises to be a success. Last year&8217;s camp brought in children from all over the area, and even a few from the other side of the state.

For those who chose to take advantage of the art program, they will be taking lessons from an experienced instructor. Gibbs, who has been teaching the arts and crafts camp at the Jones Recreation Center since 1970, has a staff of five who will be assisting she and all participants in the camp. The crew helps children paint birdhouses, ball caps, book bags, pillows, ceramics, and other crafty creations.

Mary Sewell, who works with Gibbs, said the programs instill good character traits in the children who attend.

Although having fun is a big deal at the Ratliff Center, safety is the biggest issue with most parents debating whether or not to send their kids.

Ward, who has been director at the Ratliff Center since its opening three years ago, said they have never had any sort of fight or altercation in his time there.

Starting Monday, the Centers will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Now registration is necessary; children can just be dropped off the days they would like to attend.

Summer programs will end on July 25.

Any youth wishing to volunteer at the Centers, or for parents wanting more information, contact Edward Ward at (334) 289-2200.