Summer Camp To Help Children Deal With post-Katrina Stress

It has been nearly eight months since Katrina's unwelcome visit, but to 9-year-old Annabelle Huynh, it seems like just yesterday.

"I lost my house, my clothes and my toys. I feel sad when I think about all the things I lost," the third grade North Bay Elementary School student said.

A unique summer camp called Safe Harbor is designed to help students like Annabelle cope with their loses.

"From your fellow Rotarians from across the globe, it's a privilege to present $100,000 for your project Safe Harbor," Bob Stuart, a board member of Rotary International said.

Funding for the program didn't stop there. The Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation matched the Rotary's donation.

Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation President Clyde Dease told the crowd, "Our foundation is pleased to partner with Rotary International."

It's a summer camp school leaders say will benefit a lot of storm weary students.

"I'm seeing every garment of emotion we're seeing discipline problems from children that's never had discipline problems, we're seeing with drawls student who just won't participate they're very quiet they're just subdued which is just I think a signal of depression," Bay-Waveland Schools Superintendent Dr. Kim Stasny said.

The Safe Harbor program is designed to bring students out of their various stages of depression.

The Valley Foundation's CEO, Dr. Ted Alexander said, "Save the Children is an international group that has a curriculum designed for kids who have been though what these children have been through. So we're weaving the Save the Children curriculum in with some art, music, some dance, some physical education, some activities. It will kind of be like a summer school but it's going to be a fun summer school."

For students like Annabelle Huynh, fun is just what the doctor ordered.

Students in five school districts will be eligible to participate in the Safe Harbor Summer Camp Program. They include Bay-Waveland, Hancock County, Picayune, Poplarville and Pearl River County School Districts.

by Al Showers