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Thursday, May 21, 2015 12:01 am

COMPASS POINTS THE WAY

Summer camp is a time of discovery and growth for those privileged enough to go, but for underprivileged kids, it could mean starting the next school year on track instead of trying to catch up. Camp Compass, a summer school for homeless or low-income kids in Springfield, has a chance to win $25,000 from State Farm, but it needs help.

Camp Compass provides tutoring, learning activities, field trips, meals and more. It’s an outgrowth of the Compass After-School Program started by the Family Service Center in Springfield.

The camp is among 200 causes in State Farm’s Neighborhood Assistance contest, which allows voters to choose which causes deserve support. Camp Compass has stayed in the running as several thousand other causes were eliminated, and the program needs votes to make the top 40 and receive $25,000. Currently, Camp Compass is ranked at #35. The money would be used to pay for the transportation of 100 children to and from the program each day.

To help Camp Compass win, go online to www.bit.ly/campcompass and vote for “Close the Achievement Gap.”

There’s more going on with Compass, however. The sound of strings filled the building at Spirit and Truth Ministries in Springfield last week, as the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony joined with the Compass After-School Program to teach kids about the wonders of making music.

Elle Pressly, executive director of SVYS, brought violins, cellos and other stringed instruments to Compass’ Hazel Dell site last week for what she calls an instrument petting zoo.

“It gives kids an exposure to instruments and allows them to learn about them, hear them and try them in a no-pressure environment,” Pressly said. “It’s a joy to see them try the instruments for the first time.”

Pressly and several members of SVYS visited Compass sites three times during the school year, and she says it provides an opportunity for her students to take on a leadership role showing others how to use the instruments.

Devin Cartwright, Compass site director for Hazel Dell, laughs as he recounts a simple song the kids learned to play, called “Pepperoni Pizza.” He says the visits from SVYS were part of the Compass curriculum, which teaches kids about life skills and potential career paths.

“It’s really a fun opportunity for the kids,” Cartwright said.

For more information on Compass, visit www.service2families.org/compass.

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