Area youth set to stride back to school with Steps and Stories program

By Shelby Stewart-Soldan
Staff Writer
Brandon Twp.— A few local students will step into the school year with new kicks and ready to learn thanks to a group of local volunteers.
For the past eight weeks, 24 students in the Sashabaw Meadows and Clarkston Lakes Community have flocked to the Sashabaw Meadows clubhouse for Steps and Stories. The program is directed by Fran Hotchkiss, Brandon Library Outreach Liaison.
“The Steps and Stories program is very important because it fosters the love of reading and being active,” said Hotchkiss. “I so enjoy the student’s enthusiasm each week for the activities we are doing. To see their reading skills improving along with their team building skills is very rewarding to me.”
Over the course of the program, students meet once a week to get to do a read aloud activity, work on their ‘Be Positive!’ activity workbooks, and have a guest speaker each week that includes a physical activity. They have had classes on yoga, soccer, drumFIT, Spanish, and more. The classes help them to learn to lead active lifestyles, improve their reading, and they get a workbook about being positive and confident. All of the classes are a collaboration with local instructors and programs.
“I love that this program is a true community collaboration,” she said. “I so appreciate BGYA and the Ortonville Eastern Stars generously sponsoring this Brandon Township Public Library Outreach program. The generosity of Nan Holbolth and her drumFIT Team, The Brandon Fire Department, Jessica Starshine Yoga, Eileen McClennen or fondly called Coach Ei teaching outdoor games, BHS teacher, Lori Marino teaching Spanish Fun, The BHS NHS Students volunteering and Sue Barch from Seymour Lake Methodist Church volunteering is a true Community Collaboration for my program.”
Students are enjoying the program so much, that some of them are joining in on other community programs with the same activities.
“The children are super excited each week and seem very proud of their reading accomplishments. They have been enjoying the new skills they are learning,” she said. “This program has even encouraged families to be more active together. One family joined drumFIT that I go to at Hillside Church led by Nan Holbolth. Parents have commented on their children’s confidence in reading improving.”
At the end of the program, the students get to go on a shoe-shopping trip, sponsored by the Brandon Groveland Youth Assistance with donations from the Eastern Stars. About a dozen students went on the first trip on Aug. 9 at the Oxford Meijer.
The program finished on Aug. 10, and with school starting up soon, the students and parents are starting back-to-school shopping. The shoe-shopping trip ensures that each student in the program is ready for the new school year so they can continue to be active without worn-out shoes.
“The shoe shopping trip was a huge blessing for all of the families,” she said. “With the cost of everything being so high, getting new shoes and socks helped them immensely. The children and parents were so thankful, the big smiles on their faces said it all.”

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