Manchester gives 1,650 Wabash County youngsters a first-hand
look at a college future

On Friday, Sept. 27, more than 1,650 Wabash County elementary students took their first steps toward a college education – most with money already accumulating in their college savings accounts. Children in kindergarten through third grade poured onto the North Manchester campus of Manchester University to discover the possibilities of their future.

"Walk Into My Future" is a part of the Wabash County Promise that gives children all kinds of opportunities to dream about their futures. During school registerations countywide last August, children in grades K-3 were invited to open CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings Accounts – each with a $25 initial gift from Parkview Health.

This month, College Savings Month in Indiana, Wabash County students are completing classroom activities that help them begin to visualize possible careers and to realize how education beyond high school may help them achieve those goals.

The youngsters also are inviting “champions” – neighbors, relatives, friends – to add to their new college savings accounts. Children who receive at least $25 from champions will receive a gift of at least $75 from a coalition of public and private partners. So far, more than 65 percent of the K-5 Wabash County children are raising funds for their accounts to qualify for the matching gifts.

Businesses, churches, schools and others in the community are partnering in the Wabash County Promise, a college and career readiness initiative led by the Wabash County YMCA and supported by Beauchamp McSpadden Insurance, Parkview Health and many other community stakeholders.

MU students, faculty and staff joined national and state officials and other Wabash County Promise leaders in cheering and high-fiving with the youngsters as they, their classroom teachers, parent chaperones and Manchester University mentors surrounded the campus mall to "Walk Into My Future" on Sept. 27.

“Manchester University is excited to be the very first university that many of our Wabash County students visit,” said President Jo Young Switzer. “When children dream of college when they are 6, they can make it a reality when they are 18.”

More than 200 Manchester University students greeted the busloads of children. “They are eager to be the face of what it means to be a college student,” said Michael Slavkin, one of the scores of coordinators of the massive celebration. As MU director of teacher education (and a parent), he aptly predicted the realities of the day: “It will be loud, it will be wild. More than 800 kids will arrive at once. Two hours later, another 800 will arrive.”

MU was prepared with inspiring activities at math, music, art, education, chemistry, business and biology career stations. Tours of a residence hall, Academic Center, Science Center and MU Union gave the youngsters a rare peek into the real world of college. Safety, lost-and-found and other stations were at the ready for Wabash County’s future college students. About 250 adults accompanied the youngsters on their ourney to higher education.

There’s still time to champion a child. Find the Champion form and learn more about the Wabash County Promise at www.wabashcountyymca.org. Connect with Amanda Jones-Layman at the Wabash County YMCA for specifics at 260-563-9622.

Learn more about CollegeChoice 529, which provides tax advantages, professional investment management and more ways to save for education, at www.collegechoicedirect.com.

School partners: Metropolitan School District of Wabash County, Wabash City Schools, Manchester Community Schools, Emmanuel Christian School, St. Bernard Elementary School, Manchester University

Wabash County partners: Beauchamp & McSpadden Insurance, Wabash County YMCA, Community Foundation of Wabash County, Economic Development Group of Wabash County, Wabash County Chamber of Commerce, Wabash County College Success Coalition, Wabash County Hospital Foundation, Halderman Farm Management, Wabash Circuit Court, Wabash Marketplace Inc., NIPSCO, The Paper of Wabash County, Goose Graphics

Regional, state, national partners: The Big Goal Collaborative, Unpromise Investments, CollegeChoice 529, Indiana Education Savings Authority, Indiana Treasurer of State, Parkview Health, Indiana Sen. Jim Banks

September 2013

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North Manchester, IN 46962
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