Right Path lets families dive into fun with summer effort

Photo by Janelle Patterson Left to right, Anthony Seevers, Brandon Brown, Xavier Rodriguez, Kaleb Luke, William Carter, Skyy Miller and Thaxton Ballengee jump together into the pool at the Marietta Aquatic Center Friday during the end of summer blow-out party with The Right Path for Washington County.

MARIETTA — Cannonballs, hula-hooping contests and a live DJ closed out the summer programming for The Right Path for Washington County Friday.

The Right Path is a program that aims to provide prevention services and programming that focuses on drug-free activities, youth-adult partnerships and community service to put young people onto good paths for their lifetimes.

Friday was the program’s “End of Summer Blow-Out Party” with swimming and a family night supported through community partnerships at the Marietta Aquatic Center.

“I love bringing my grandchildren each Friday night and to all these things,” said Rhonda Martin, of Marietta. “It’s good for the kids to stay out of trouble and I love it when they do this.”

Martin explained that her family is plagued with examples of making poor decisions but she’s fighting to keep her grandkids on a better path than their parents.

“Bryce (10) and Hali (14) are at that age when they could make the bad choices, their mom’s in prison and their dad just got caught,” she expanded. “I’m fighting breast cancer and doing everything I can with their other grandma to keep them going on the right path. We’re not perfect but we fight for these kids; they come first.”

Anthony Seevers, 17, of Marietta, has been attending Right Path events for the past decade and said the program has been a great way to make new friends and even pull his brother out of his shell.

“There’s always a slide contest or a fun thing at a dance,” he explained. “I always drag my little brother along with me and now he even has fun at these things outside of the house now.”

Cathy Harper, coordinator of the program, said this summer the group has “sorely missed” the ability to hold teen dances at Marietta College’s Gathering Place due to renovations, but the obstacle also pushed the group to come up with different activities to draw teens and their families.

“What we were finding is that a lot of these teens are responsible for their younger siblings so these family nights are just as important,” she said. “This fall we’re looking to rewrite our mission statement to include more of the family aspect in it. We’re having a strategic planning session on Sept. 12 for that and are always looking for more and younger board members to come on with some ideas.”

Other events the group has held throughout the summer have included pool parties and dances out in the county at the Barlow Fairgrounds and Beverly-Waterford Community Pool and Belpre City Pool.

“One night we had 181 kids at one of the pool nights,” noted Harper.

“But the best night by far was that partnership with the Harmar program and the Marietta City Police,” added Board President Greg Siegfried, speaking of the dance in the park at Flanders Field with the M.O.V. Rebound program held in July with Kona Ice sponsored by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the live DJ sponsored by the juvenile court and face painting sponsored by The Marietta Times. “What the police department did that night with playing basketball and getting to know those kids was off the charts and absolutely amazing; that community gathering is what we formed this program to do 14 years ago.”

But the end of the summer pool party is still the signature event, Siegfried said.

“This is what we’re known for, and you can see it in the smiles on the kids faces,” he added.

Cindy Thrasher, of Marietta, was encouraged by the event Friday as she brought her family to enjoy the water and games.

“It’s a fun event for the kids,” she said. “I think there could be more activities for the teens though, throughout the year, it would be really nice to have more teen dances and events to keep them engaged.”

The Right Path’s future events can be found on all three social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or for more information contact Coordinator Cathy Harper at 740-374-6990.


What’s Next:

* Wednesday: Free family night at the Children’s Toy and Doll Museum. Activities include a free tour of the museum, rock painting, face painting, coloring activities, basketball and games, 6-9 p.m.

* Sept. 12: Strategic planning session for The Right Path at the Fairfield Inn, 4:30 p.m.

* Those interested in planning new activities or becoming a board member may contact Cathy Harper at 740-374-6990.

* Sept. 22: Recovery Day at East Muskingum Park, 11 a.m. 3 p.m.

* Local agencies, children’s groups and resources to be featured at the free event.

Source: Cathy Harper, Right Path coordinator