WARREN Red Cross ends year with a big splash

Volunteers help the children in the pool twice each week throughout the school year.
WARREN -- After a year of kicking and splashing in the Avalon Inn pool, about 50 disabled children wrapped up the school year with a party.
The children from Trumbull County schools enrolled in an adapted aquatics program celebrated the program's end Thursday at the Red Cross.
The adapted aquatics program for children with multiple physical disabilities is a partnership between the American Red Cross's Trumbull County Chapter and the Trumbull County Educational Service Center.
Volunteers help the children into the pool at Avalon Inn in Howland twice each week during the school year.
The children have various handicaps including spina bifida, autism and cerebral palsy.
Thursday's slate of entertainment included Freddie the Fish from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Old Country Buffet's Bee and ventriloquist Bill Lisby of Cortland.
Lisby called on Breanna Badea, 12, of Leavitt Elementary in Warren Township, and Kenneth Hill, 13, of Bloomfield Mesopotamia Middle School, for help in one skit.
Kenneth dressed in a costume of bib overalls and a straw hat while Breanna donned a costume of braids and red jumper. Lisby patted each child on the shoulder, signaling them to open and close their mouths, while heperformed "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" in two voices.
Louis Pop, 18, and a senior at Brookfield High School, started volunteering with the program through school last year. Initially, he didn't know what to expect.
"It's fun after a while when you get to know the kids," he said.
His class spent the first half of this school year cleaning the football field as their volunteer project. The latter half was spent in the adapted aquatics program.
Louis prefers splashing in the pool to walking along the field.
Jaime Rankin, 19, and another Brookfield High School senior, also volunteers with the program through school.
This school year marks the second she's volunteered with the program.
"I like it. I like the kids. It means a lot to them," she said.

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