Not your ordinary school bus – Bus is on the road all week, bringing fun to Wood County

The ?fun bus? is on the road twice a day during the week this summer, bringing free activities and arts
to Wood County youths from Haskins to Hoytville.
The bus is a partnership of the United Way and YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo. This is the second year
locally for the program, which has two buses running in the Toledo area and one in Wood County, said
Sara Perna, senior program director for the YMCA?s Fort Meigs facility in Perrysburg.
When the bus rolls into a community for three hours of activities it?s often met by up to 30 children,
waiting to unload the goodies and play with the counselors, Perna said.
It?s packed with games, sports equipment, music and ?tons of art supplies.? The staff of three always has
an art activity and group game planned, but the rest of the time is devoted to what the children want to
?Some of the sites, there?s kids waiting for us, which is neat to see. A lot of the kids know the staff?s
names and the staff knows the kids? names … there?s definitely an impact we?ve made on these kids,?
Perna said.
Two of the staff members, who are all in their early 20s, were with the program last year.
?So they really built some great relationships with the community,? Perna said. ?That was nice to see
that they remembered the kids and it wasn?t just something for them to do in the summer.?
Some special toys on the bus include ?giant? versions of Jenga, Connect Four and checkers.
Perna said the YMCA prides itself on developing fun and safe programs for youths.
?We thought if people can?t make it to the ?Y,? we?ll take it to them and United Way has backed us with
the funding.?
The fun bus schedule is set everyday of the week except for Friday afternoons.
Perna said groups are welcome to book the bus, which can park in a vacant lot, neighborhood park or ice
cream store. Last year, the bus made stops at a vacation bible school and migrant farm, she said.
In 2008, the bus served 1,300 Wood County youths. Perna said it?s important to reach out to children who
don?t have the structured schedule of school during the summer or camps.
?It?s such a large county and there?s not a lot for kids to do south of Perrysburg and Bowling Green,?
she said.
This summer?s program started June 8 and runs through Aug. 21.
The ?fun bus? is geared toward children ages 5 to 12, but Perna said the counselors will adjust the games
and activities for any age.
Fun bus schedule
(Mornings, which are listed first, are 9 a.m. to noon and afternoons are 1 to 4 p.m.)
Mondays, Hoytville Youth Community Outreach and North Baltimore Public Library
Tuesdays, Lusher Park in Haskins and Amherst Village Apartments, Bowling Green.
Wednesdays, Lawndale Family Community in Weston and Labino Park in Grand Rapids.
Thursdays, Bowling Green City Park and Friendly Village West Park in Perrysburg Township.
Fridays, Martin Park in Cygnet.
For more information call or e-mail Sara Perna at (419) 251-9622 or [email protected].
Photos by Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune