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Future of long-standing WYSP summer camp depends on success of fundraising effort

RELEASED: Jan. 22, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — Directors of a popular summer youth program offered for nearly 30 years on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus are hopeful that the community will respond generously to a fundraising effort aimed at keeping the program alive.

The Wisconsin Youth Success Program (formerly the National Youth Sports Program and later the Wisconsin Youth Sports Program), a free five-week summer camp that has served nearly 11,000 Chippewa Valley youth over the past 29 years, must raise $30,000 by Feb. 15 if it is to operate in summer 2010.

"We are appealing to the many people out there who know what an important program this has been for area children, and we're asking for their support at this critical time," said Vicki Funne Reed, director of UW-Eau Claire's University Recreation & Sport Facilities.

Each summer WYSP, run by University Recreation & Sport Facilities staff, has provided more than 400 area youth ages 10-16 with opportunities to develop leadership, academic and athletic skills. Each day of camp, participants who live in the Eau Claire and Altoona school districts receive free transportation to and from camp, as well as two federally subsidized meals on site.

"Many of the youth who participate in the program are part of underserved populations that may not otherwise have opportunities to attend programs on campus or have other summer-camp experiences," said Lisa Schuetz, WYSP activity director.

Talia Steuding, a 2008 UW-Eau Claire elementary education graduate and a 2004 graduate of Eau Claire North High School, has been involved with WYSP for 10 years, first as a camper and later as a staff member.

"When I was a participant, this camp taught me the essential values of respect, teamwork and cooperation," Steuding said. "Essentially, WYSP reinforced what I learned in school in a fun, simplistic way so it was easy and natural to adapt these core principles into my character."

More recently as a staff member, Steuding said WYSP has provided her the opportunity to refine skills that will help her succeed in her teaching career.

"This camp has shaped who I am today," she said. "The Chippewa Valley would be hard pressed to find a better program for area kids, and the taxpayers a better use of their money. I hope this camp can still be in operation for years to come so that more children can be lucky like me and receive such a bright start."

Federal funding for the award-winning WYSP was eliminated in 2007, but UW-Eau Claire continued it and renamed it. WYSP has since relied on community partnerships and private funding for support. It has had long-standing partnerships with the Eau Claire Area School District and the district's Building Bridges program, as well as the Altoona School District. Other partners have included the UW-Health/Family Medicine Clinic in Eau Claire, which has provided free medical exams to participants; the Chippewa Valley Technical College dental hygiene program, which has offered campers a free dental screening and cleaning; and the Eau Claire YMCA, which has provided campers with free passes for its Graham Avenue facility and its Moore Street skate park.

More information about WYSP and how to make a gift in support of the program is available online or by calling Schuetz at 715-836-2400.

Vicki Funne Reed, director of University Recreation & Sport Facilities, and Lisa Schuetz, WYSP activity director, are available to talk about WYSP and its impact on thousands of Chippewa Valley youth, as well as its funding needs. Contact Reed at 715-836-4931 or reedvf@uwec.edu, or Schuetz at 715-836-2400 or schuetlm@uwec.edu.

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JP/DW

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