The STAR program is a free program, sponsored by the Office of Women's Health, that focused on physical fitness and nutrition.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health awarded the City of Pine Bluff $800,000 from the Youth Engagement in Sports (YES) Grant. The two-year grant, awarded last year, recruited Jack Robey Junior High and Robert F. Morehead Middle School students in the 6th-8th grades to attend activities through the Parks and Recreation and Aquatic Center.

Deaquanita Lancelin, director of the Star Program, said originally the program was only for certain school districts but are now recruiting is open to students from all districts in the city of Pine Bluff.

During the program’s beginning, which started in January of 2020, participants had access to the new aquatics center and other fun and interactive activities for them to experience. Transportation was also provided by the school district.

“Previous to COVID, they’ve done basketball, archery, volleyball, football, yoga, kickball, dodgeball and just a large variety of activities,” said Lancelin. “Since COVID we have focused in on just swim lessons.”

Lancelin adds that transportation also was ceased by the school district due to COVID-19 but the city is currently working on a grant that will hopefully provide vans by July.

The STAR program is a free program, sponsored by the Office of Women’s Health, that focused on physical fitness and nutrition.

“Right now we have two free swim sessions happening to minimize contact,” said Lancelin.

Lancelin explains students in the 6th-8th grade in the Watson Chapel School District and that attend Jack Robey Junior High, aquatic days and hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Students in the Dollarway school district will come on Monday during the same times mentioned for the other districts.

“The swim lessons are done by one of the WSI staff members at the aquatic center,” said Lancelin. “Each time they come in throughout the week they have a swim lesson. Students also enjoy pool basketball, volleyball and workouts in the whirlpool.”

With some contact during the various activities, Lancelin says they have implemented safety measures but do not require the students to be tested for COVID-19.

“When they do come into the aquatic center they are required to have a mask on,” said Lancelin. “The masks are required to stay on the entire time unless they are eating or in the pool area. They do get their temperatures checked and we keep those logged at the front desk as well.”

The program is slated to end in July and will resume back when school begins.

Lancelin encourages parents to sign up their children and take advantage of this free program by registering your child at the Pine Bluff Aquatic Center located at 400 East 11th Avenue.