The SO COOL program, short for School’s Out- Camp of Organized Learning is a program centered on the ages of 8-13 year olds. It was held at the old National Guard Armory and is totally funded by contributions. Nancy Steed is the program director and has been for the past 18 years. Cassie Shields, the director of the Alcoholism Substance Abuse Council also helps every year. Shields was with the program when it began with Patrick Walker and Jason Shields which was more than 25 years ago.
The program then moved to the Elementary School until the Rotary Club took over funding and set up an account to help. The Rotary Club took over funding and set up an account to help.
The Rotary Club provides all food for lunch snacks, and the equipment needed every year.
It began June 13 and ran through July 13, 2012. Last year the program had a high attendance of 136 children.
When the program was first organized, it was centered around the ages of 8-13 because of the fact that many children that age are often left alone at home or with those who aren’t able to provide adequate care. With the SO COOL programs, children are now offered a place to spend the summer and have adult supervision as well as learning experiences and entertainment.
Each age group is divided into boys and girls. Group leaders are in charge of activities each day for their classes. The program offers many activities each day for their classes. The program offers many activities to keep the children occupied and busy. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the kids were carried to the Centre City Pool where they swim from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The program also offers activities such as football, softball, tennis, movies, music, and also they are taken to the Fun Time Skating Rink twice during this five-week period. The program also host a talent show every year to encourage the children to grow and develop their own unique talents.
The first week of SO COOL, the kids are taken to Pine Grove Baptist Church for the annual Vacation Bible School. The children and 10 workers go every day to the Bible school and then return to the armory for food and activities until they are picked up by their parents.
The City of Centre, SO-COOL workers and supporters say, has always been very helpful with the SO COOL program as well as the Rotary Club. The City allows the program to use the building at no charge, provides window air conditioning, pays the electric and water bills and allows the use of all city facilities. City facilities surround the Armory such as the pool, tennis court, playgrounds, and the ballpark. The City is also great in assisting if the children need assistance in crossing the roads or anything of that nature by directing traffic. Along with all these things they also make monetary gifts to the Rotary Club for the SO COOL program. Other donations come from the County Commission, the Sorrell Dental and Gadsden State Nursing Students. Associates of Sorrell Dental come by every year to sign kids up for free dental screening and talk about dental care. They also leave free toothbrushes and toothpaste for the children to enjoy. Gadsden State Nursing Students, headed by Kelly Davis, also provide good quality tips for the children dealing with first aid and pool safety.
If anyone is interested in volunteering with the SO COOL program either by monetary means or with your time it would be welcome and appreciated. High school students as well as college can receive community hours with this program for any volunteer work, therefore looking great on any resume for their future.