‘Family Day’ for The Second Mile celebrated at Lakemont Park

Over 600 local foster families and participants in The Second Mile’s Programs participated in a Family Day on Tuesday during The Second Mile Day at Lakemont Park. The third annual event was co-sponsored by Lakemont Park and The Second Mile.
The Children & Youth agencies of Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Huntingdon, and Somerset Counties extended an invitation to the foster parents on the rolls. In addition this year, Lakemont Park also generously included children from those same counties who participate in The Second Mile’s Friend and Summer Challenge Programs.
The Second Mile’s Friend and Summer Challenge Programs provide a summer camp week and other recreational and educational activities throughout the year which helps to build self-esteem in the children and to give them a chance to interact with other youngsters and caring adult mentors.
Also in attendance yesterday at Lakemont Park was Jerry Sandusky, founder of The Second Mile, who spent meaningful time with the foster families and signed autographs.
The Second Mile, founded in 1982 by Jerry Sandusky, provides a network of nine preventions, early intervention and community-based programs and services offered free to over 100,000 children who are at-risk across the Commonwealth. The Second Mile services nearly 6800 individuals alone in Blair County.
The mission of The Second Mile challenges young people to achieve their potential as individuals and community members by providing opportunities for them to develop positive life skills and self-esteem.
The program also provides education and support for parents and professionals addressing the needs of youth.
The Second Mile’s programs reach out to the children, teaching them how they can make a difference in their own lives and in their communities. It also acknowledges the extraordinary contributions of foster parents and families by providing recreational activities at no cost to foster families. These activities provide excellent opportunities for interaction and support among foster parents, as well as special times for family sharing.
One of those popular activities is Family Day at Lakemont Park, which celebrates and says thank you to the many foster parents and children in the programs. The partnership between The Second Mile and Lakemont Park demonstrates the recognition of the significant role foster parents play in Pennsylvania by providing a special time for these families to have a fun-filled day as a departure from the traumas and challenges encountered by their foster children.
Jerry Sandusky, founder and visionary of The Second Mile, not only started the prestigious program but was a foster parent also. Family Day at Lakemont Park for Sandusky brings many meanings to mind.
“Having been a foster parent makes this event meaningful to me because I know that it is a challenge,” said Sandusky. “When you can bring people together and they can enjoy a great day, that’s kind of a reward for people who pour themselves out into the programs.” Lakemont Park provides an intriguing backdrop for an event such as Family Day because of its atmosphere. It is home to over 30 rides and attractions, including the Island Waterpark. Sandusky noted, “It’s an opportunity for the kids to enjoy a wholesome event and have a good time, and it’s neat to see the families enjoy that.”
Sandusky added, “I know that amusement parks are always memories that become part of our lives forever because it’s time that we spend with our children.”
Ellen Konkle, Assistant Director of Programs for The Second Mile, saw first hand how elated the children were when they began to file into Lakemont Park for Family Day.
“Just by looking around you can see the kids are smiling and excited to be here,” said Konkle. “The kids were jumping up and down when they got here and couldn’t wait to get on the rides. They were anxious to have a really fun day – and they will.”
The Second Mile Family Day at Lakemont Park is special, but one of the most profound ways to positively impact the life of a child is to become a foster parent. Those who devote their time to foster parenting are the courageous and generous individuals who open their homes to abused or neglected youth.
Family Day celebrates the efforts of foster parents also. Those individuals deeply appreciate the activities provided by The Second Mile, such as the Lakemont event.
Jean Muir, foster parent of 26 years, was in attendance yesterday at Lakemont Park. Muir commented on the Family Day event, “This is really nice because it’s an event for families of foster children and their natural children.” She added, “Foster parents and their own children have the chance to be recognized and have a fun day together.”
During Muir’s loving 26 years of foster parenting, she has given many children new opportunities in life. To be able to see them make something out of their lives is the reward for being a foster parent. To Muir and many other foster parents, each child brings their own uniqueness which makes foster parenting even more special.
Muir noted, “You get more out of it than what you put in it. When I hear ‘I love you mom’ from a foster child, it really makes it all worthwhile.”
There’s always a need for foster parents. A lot of the youth need somebody and it’s not always easy to provide that. Foster parenting is a challenging job and it takes special people with a lot of effort on everyone’s part.
Those special people were at The Second Mile Family Day at Lakemont Park yesterday. The Second Mile has been dedicated to recognizing the foster parents of Pennsylvania.
These individuals have opened their homes and hearts to children who need friendship and love and who are often confused and frightened by their life circumstances.