Balloon launch and the LIGHT Project


GREENVILLE – The Light Foundation is a non-profit organization that exists to give at-risk kids a better chance at leading healthy lives by using the great outdoors to learn and grow. It was founded in 2001 by former New England Patriot football player Matt Light. In 18 years, the programs and events have grown immensely.

One program that has continued to grow each year is The LIGHT Project – an acronym for literacy, inquiry, getting outside, having fun, and time spent with family. The program aims to get first graders interested in reading and exploring the environments around them. It was created by Angela McMurry and is a program that is funded and supported by The Light Foundation.

The LIGHT Project has remained only in Darke County school systems for five years until an amazing thing happened in the fall of 2018. The Clarence and Shelbina Elementary Schools in Clarence and Shelbina, Mo. celebrated the groundbreaking of their new school, which will bring both schools onto one campus next year. With the ceremony they sent bouquets of balloons with notes attached asking for the finders to send it in, so they know how far their balloon bouquets traveled. One of the bouquets of balloons happened to land at Chenoweth Trails – the 500-acre plot of land for The Light Foundation in Greenville.

When the Light Foundation staff found the balloons outside, they knew they had to do something for the South Shelby Elementary. In addition to sending an autographed football, posters, and many different pieces of memorabilia, they offered to extend the LIGHT Project to the first graders in Missouri.

The elementary schools started the school year in August, which is also when the program is introduced to the first graders. It is something they can participate in all year by reading books and participating in activities in order to earn points to redeem for prizes. The Light Foundation provided all 40 South Shelby first graders with books along with an activity bag that includes a magnifying glass, tweezers, ruler, and a journal to start their reading and exploring journey.

The Light Foundation continues to help the youth grow and learn each year. It would not be possible to provide books, tools, and journals to a total of 500 first graders in 15 classrooms each year without the help of sponsors. The sponsors for this year’s LIGHT Project are DP&L Foundation, The Fred & Alice Wallace Charitable Memorial Foundation, Kiwanis International, American Legion Post 140, SEW Eurodrive, The Knights of Columbus, Moose Lodge #329, and Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs. If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, email April Brubaker at [email protected].

First graders from school in Missouri display their LIGHT Project bags. graders from school in Missouri display their LIGHT Project bags. Courtesy photo

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