No Charge story hour and summer camp program offered at the ‘Tree House’

Caiden, Tanner and Lochlin Lambers are photographed near a mural painted by Milan Middle School students at The Treehouse during story time.

With the center’s director Jim Smith looking on, Tanner Lambers signed the guest book at the The Treehouse in downtown Milan.

Five-year-old Caiden lambers crawled through the fun tunnel during a recent story hour at The Treehouse located on E. Main St. in Milan.

by Joyce Ervin, Freelance Milan Eagle Journalist

 

Brothers Caiden, Tanner and Lochlin Lambers stopped by The Treehouse located on East Main Street in Milan last Saturday and had some fun.  The center is run by Jim Smith, who provides several programs designed for youngsters ages 5 to 10 through his 4 Hands For Kids non-profit.

Each Saturday parents may accompany their children or are welcome to drop them off for the no charge, hour-long reading session that is held from 2 pm to 3 pm.

Brightly-colored murals painted by middle school students line one wall of the center.  A fun tunnel to crawl through is found on the other side of the space.  Caiden crawled through the tunnel and said his favorite part of the trek was seeing the pictures painted on the inside of the tunnel walls.

Three-year-old Tanner signed the guest book.  He was very proud of his ability to make a capital “T” and print his name.  The boys left with their parents, Colin and Stephanie Lambers, to enjoy a bike ride.  Before leaving, they helped themselves to a book of their choice.  Smith said anyone attending the story hour is welcome to take a book home.  The books are donated by supporters and Milan residents.

Besides holding the weekly story hour, during the summer, Bully Proofing Camp is held Monday through Friday from 9 am to 12 pm. with outdoor play and a snack offered. Smith places an emphasis on warding off bullying saying 1.5 million student school days a year are lost due to bullying.  Bullying can have devastating effects and the earlier the subject is addressed the better, he said.

Bully Buster Club is held on Sunday afternoons from 1 pm to 3 pm.  Smith has written interactive scripts using a large stuffed clown named Weepy Creepy to represent the bully .  The skit provides the youngsters with strategies for dealing with bullying should they encounter such a situation.  The play also teaches kids not to be a bully.

The mission of 4 Hands for Kids is to do whatever it takes to help our community’s kids become all they can be.  .  Smith has worked with children in the Milan area for many years.  The Treehouse sponsors a Milan Youth League T-ball team that he coaches.  He volunteers at the high school working with ninth-grade counselor and student support Mark Rodan in the Lifesavers group.

Considering his resume, he is more than qualified to mentor kids and help them be all that they can be.  Smith holds a Bachelor of Science degree in history with a minor in social work from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.  He serves on two sub-committees for the Washtenaw Area Council on Youth.

Future plans for the group include incorporating community service projects.  With summer approaching, Smith said he would like for the youngsters to garden and donate the produce to Milan’s senior citizens.  He also would like to implement a writing/journalism program he had much success with through his work with Peace Neighborhood Center of Ann Arbor.

The center is located at 13 E. Main Street. For more information, call 439-6867 or email jmicsmit [at] umich [dot] edu.

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