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Westland Winter Jamboree Chases Away the Winter Doldrums

The 2019 Winter Jamboree hosted by the Norwayne Community Citizens Council was held last month. On Saturday, February 23, local families were treated to a free event held at the Jefferson Barnes Community Center in Westland. The event ran from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and featured a scavenger hunt, crafts in the community center library, and a paper airplane flight contest and dodgeball with the Westland Police Department's Community Police Officers. A free lunch of tacos and a school supply giveaway for those who participated in the scavenger hunt were also on the agenda.

Norwayne Community Citizens Council (NCCC) President Hank Johnson explains that the organization was founded when the Wayne-Westland Community School District closed the two elementary schools located within the Norwayne neighborhood. The all-volunteer organization was intended to maintain a feeling of community in the absence of one of the main institutions which hold a community together-the schools. One of the shuttered elementary schools eventually was transitioned into the Jefferson Barns Community Center.

One of the first projects NCCC undertook was to establish a library at the community center. "We're really big on promoting literacy," Johnson says. In fact, the scavenger hunt featured at the Winter Jamboree required participants to use both the library and a dictionary to complete several of the designated tasks.

Shannon Ziegler, who is a member of NCCC's Board of Directors, says organizers wanted to focus the Winter Jamboree's events on getting children to see that learning can be fun. Superhero Regie, who resembles a stalk of broccoli and made an appearance courtesy of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, interacted with the kids and read a story about nutrition and healthy eating.

In the community center's gymnasium, Westland Community Police Officers occupied the youngsters in a paper airplane making project. They also held a contest to see whose airplane could fly the farthest. "The kids are really excited about this," said Officer Chaim Kozak. "We like the kids to engage with us; we like the kids to have a different aspect on when they see law enforcement." Following the paper airplane contest was a rousing game of dodgeball.

"Oh, I love this event," added Officer Rodney Donald. "It's a great chance to get the kids outside, get them out of the house...all around, it's great for the community."

Also attending Saturday's event was Westland City Council Member Mike Londeau. He praised the event and the organizers' efforts at promoting it. "That's what the Norwayne Community Citizens Council is for, to promote healthy and free events for the community," he said, adding, "we fundraise all year long." Londeau is also a member of NCCC's Board of Directors.

Volunteers were at the heart of Saturday's event. From helping kids with the scavenger hunt to helping fold paper airplanes to serving lunch, the event was a demonstration of vibrant community in action. Michigan State Representative for the 16th District, Kevin Coleman said, "It's great to see all the families out, all the kids having fun."

"I'm very proud of this community and all the people that have been able to help us really support the renaissance of the Norwayne Community," Johnson added. If you've never been to the Jefferson Barnes Community Center, stop by and check it out. The center has much to offer including, the Norwayne Boxing Gym, a Children's Garden, and classes on health, parenting and financial issues. The center is located at 32150 Dorsey Road, west of Merriman Road, in Westland.

For more information on the Norwayne Community Citizens Council and upcoming events or how to help out, contact Hank Johnson at [email protected].


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