Inspiring Minds concludes program with awards

By Denise Dick


Inspiring Minds’ Summer Enrichment program helped Danajah Coleman, 14, step out of her comfort zone.

“We went out of state for five days without our parents,” the Warren G. Harding High School sophomore said.

The high-school group visited the University of Notre Dame, Northwestern University and Purdue University on the five-day trip to Chicago and Indiana.

“I really enjoyed Notre Dame and Northwestern both,” Danajah said.

The trip included visits to a FedEx hub where students learned about how packages are shipped and delivered.

Danajah is one of 300 Warren students in third through 12th-grade who participated in the free, six-week summer-enrichment program that culminated Friday with an awards ceremony and talent show.

Students won awards for leadership, perfect attendance, dedication to their studies and math mastery.

The program provides programs aimed at preventing the summer learning slide as well as swimming, sports and field trips.

Chloe Harris and Ni-Shanta White, both 11, said they’ve been attending the summer program “for years.”

“I heard it was a good program where I could improve my math and reading skills and that it’s fun,” said Chloe, a seventh-grader at Lincoln K-8 School. “It sounded like something fun rather than just sitting at home, looking out the window or watching TV.”

Ni-Shanta, a sixth-grader at Lincoln K-8, said field trips and preparing for Friday’s talent show were her favorite parts of Inspiring Minds.

Their group planned to perform a dance number in the style of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and the Jackson Five.

Ni-Shanta’s brother, J’Mari White, 9, a fourth-grader at Lincoln, liked playing football best. But he acknowledged that he boosted his skills in math, his favorite subject, too.

“I learned that if I don’t understand something, I can ask for help,” he said.

Inspiring Minds started in the city nine years ago. It was founded by Deryk Toles, who also is its executive director, and expanded this summer into Youngstown. Toles, who grew up in Warren, played college and professional football.

It offers an after-school program during the school year, offering fun and educational activities.

The Warren program runs on grants and donations. The Raymond John Wean Foundation, the city and the city school system are among the grantors and donors. The organization also hosts fundraisers.

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