ZEPHYRHILLS — A Zephyrhills teacher wants to establish a program to provide activities for Zephyrhills middle school students after school and other times when school is not in session.
Bill Morehouse, a Raymond B. Stewart Middle School seventh-grade science teacher, is developing a program he calls KIDS, which stands for Kids Inspired Doing Service. He presented his ideas for the program to the city council during the April 30 special meeting.
The program would target middle school-aged kids and operate during the week when kids are not in school, but parents and guardians may be working.
“Kids this age have entered a critical time when many are pushing away from their parents and being pulled by potentially negative influences,” Morehouse said. “The KIDS program would surround them with positive people, experiences and influences to help them stay on the right path.”
Morehouse met with City Manager Steve Spina and Zephyrhills Public Works Director Shane LeBlanc last week to discuss a potential partnership with the city. Morehouse was encouraged with the discussion.
“They have been quite open to the idea and seem to want to do all they can to help get it started,” he said. “They want to do all they can for our community’s youth.
“I think it’s a good idea,” LeBlanc said. “Anything we can do for the kids is a good thing. I’m on board with helping him, and I know Steve [Spina] is, too. Now we have to button down and find a location and think about funding.”
Morehouse hopes to start with a pilot program this coming school year providing after-school care for middle schoolers.
Features of the program would include a safe, productive and positive environment, providing snacks, homework assistance and tutoring, mentoring by qualified Zephyrhills High students and games and activities that do not involve television, computers and cellphones.
The main focus of the program would be to teach kids to be contributing members of the community through service. They would learn to plan, organize and carry out service projects, especially for senior citizens. They would also learn goal setting, social skills, organizational skills, academic and vocational skills.
“Having worked with kids this age as teacher, faculty adviser, soccer and Little League coach and Scout leader, I have seen how they jump to do good things when given the opportunity to do so. The KIDS program will give them those opportunities again and again.”
Morehouse envisions having motivational speakers and community leaders meet and speak with the children and also introduce the students to other out-of-school youth organizations, such as Boy Scouts, 4H, Civil Air Patrol, Police and Fire Explorers.