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NORTH BENNINGTON — Paran Recreations announced Wednesday that it will receive a $31,000 grant through the state’s Summer Matters for All grant program. The funds are part of the $3.85 million that will be awarded to programs in 13 counties to expand access its summer program for children in grades K-12.

Lake Paran’s program will focus on outdoor recreation and environmental activities and learning. The program includes a collaboration with both the Friends of Hiland Hall Gardens and the Fund for North Bennington. Each week will focus on a different topic and include hiking, swimming, fishing and learning about the natural environment in the North Bennington area.

Children will take part in such activities as catching tadpoles and learning about their life cycle, harvesting tomatoes and making salsa, canoeing around the lake to look for turtles, and participating in real-time conservation projects. Activities will be geared to different age groups and will include gardening and learning about local foods, bird conservation, pollinators, serving as community scientists and other fun topics through collaboration with the Hiland Hall Gardens’ program and the Fund.

“We are so excited to have been chosen to share the beauty of our natural environment with young people this summer,” Camille Kauffman, program coordinator and AmeriCorps VISTA for Lake Paran, said in a release. “We are grateful that the state has decided to support a program like ours that not only allows kids to be kids this summer but also to learn about the great things our local natural resources can offer.

“Our collaboration with the Friends of Hiland Hall Gardens and the Fund for North Bennington will round out the opportunities that we can share with the kids who join us. We also have paid positions for local high schoolers and funds to support low-cost enrollment fees. We look forward to providing a great experience for kids and youth this summer,” Kauffman said.

The purpose of the grant program is to increase access to summer enrichment opportunities for K-12 youth statewide during this summer. This was a highly competitive process with 188 proposals submitting $7,427,584 in requests, which far exceeded available funds.

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The grants, funded by federal dollars secured by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and administered by Vermont Afterschool, were awarded to a variety of programs, including summer camps, libraries, municipalities, teen centers, non-profit social services organizations and more, to expand the number of weeks and slots, as well as to increase affordability and accessibility of summer programs.

These offerings will supplement school-based programs, as districts in Vermont received federal funds, which are also eligible for this work. The funds will also lead to more partnership options for local school-based programs.

“Summer is the perfect opportunity to help kids reconnect and recharge,” Holly Morehouse, executive director of Vermont Afterschool, said in a release. “We are incredibly grateful to our state leaders and policymakers for their commitment to the development of the Summer Matters for All Grant Program.

“With this funding, communities and youth-serving organizations across the state will be able to create a great summer for Vermont children and youth that will help them make new memories and emerge from the pandemic strong, resilient, and hopeful,” Morehouse said.

For more information, to enroll, and to learn about scholarship funding, visit https://lakeparanvt.org/programs-and-camps/.


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