Summer day camp celebrates cultural diversity

By Aimee Hancock

ahancock@aimmediamidwest.com

PIQUA — Kids from both the Piqua and Robinson Branch YMCA Summer Day Camps participated in an event Wednesday to honor cultural diversity and learn about the continent of Africa.

Summer Day Camp directors Abigail Ngoza-Jordan, of the Piqua Branch, and Imari Witten, of the Robinson Branch, brought their campers together for a day of activities and celebration.

Ngoza-Jordan, a native of South Africa, said she planned Wednesday’s program as a way to “encourage kids to never give up, to believe in themselves, and to appreciate diversity.”

Ngoza-Jordan shared her firsthand knowledge and experience of South Africa, and kids had the opportunity to participate in what she describes as an “interactive mobile field trip.” This included a station where kids made peanut butter from scratch, with peanuts and honey, using a mortar and pestle to mash the ingredients together; a station to build miniature huts from construction paper and straw; a station to learn about animals native to Africa; and multiple stations which included South African art, keepsakes, money, instruments, and other items for kids to examine and learn about.

“I think the kids are really enjoying it. It’s good to see them actually spreading out and giving new things a try,” Witten said. “Like Miss Abigail said, in America, kids have electronics and in South Africa, people don’t have that, so it’s kind of opening their eyes.”

Ngoza-Jordan said along with celebrating diversity, she aims for the event to help kids develop self-esteem and a positive self-image by learning about others who are different than themselves.

“My whole goal is to teach the kids,” she said. “I can talk as much as I want about Africa, but having them experience it by interacting and teaching them things, like that peanut butter can be made from scratch, so they can learn and they will never forget.”

Ngoza-Jordan noted that the group of kids attending Wednesday’s program come from different backgrounds and families, but that she aimed to create a safe place for them to learn and explore together.

“They are having fun, and really, today’s message is that I want them not to give up,” she said. “As they are going back to school, with everything they are facing, I just want to encourage them to never give up no matter what, never give up on your dream, never give up on being nice, being kind, and to help one another.”