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Programs throughout our area work to keep students engaged this summer.

Many summer camps have already filled up earlier this year, but there are some affordable options for parents this summer.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With many kids out of school, some programs throughout the Charlotte area are working to keep students engaged and out of trouble, especially in disadvantaged communities.

Many summer camps filled up toward the beginning of the year, but some parents are still searching for convenient and affordable options this summer.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Police Activity League, also known as PAL, says its main goal is to eliminate obstacles for parents looking for child care during the summer. CMPD says one of the biggest factors for kids finding themselves in trouble is simply having too much time on their hands. That's why PAL offers convenient and affordable programs for families. 

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"We rather for them to be in here with us than in the streets trying to just find something to do," said Dawn Westbrook, the executive director of PAL.

She said the organization is filled with many options to help students all year round, and even though the summer camp is full, they're offering sports programs to keep students engaged. This year's programs include cheerleading and football. 

"We realized we were losing a lot of our students after fifth grade, they were like I'm too old," Westbrook said. "In reality that’s when they need it the most."

Westbrook said PAL is also working to expand its reach in the community to teens and young adults from 16 to 24. 

"There is a need for that age group," Westbrook said. "We have the assumption you get all the tools you need by 18, and that's not the case."

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Parents can also keep their kids engaged from home this summer, experts say. 

"That may involve audio books or newspapers," UNC Charlotte professor Drew Polly said. "It's anything to keep them in the mix of reading text and discussing what they read."

He says the public library is also a great affordable option and can help kids further develop in reading and writing.

"Figure out what kids are interested in, and figure out what kids are passionate about and see how you can help them develop over the summer," Polly said. 

The YMCA also has different options available for students this summer, like its Level Up program which provides a safe space for students to interact and engage.

Contact Tradesha Woodard at twoodard1@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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