SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KSPR) - The Vocational Opportunities Inspiring Children in Elementary (VOICE) Program inspires nearly four-thousand children each year in Greene County schools. In the past year it’s expanded to ten counties surrounding Springfield. With that expansion and the start of a new school year, the program is looking for more professionals to volunteer with kids.
VOICE's goal is to inspire kids to think about a wider range of future career choices. The Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC) is in charge of the three year old program. They bring in a variety of professionals to tell kids what they do and hopefully ping an interest. It's geared toward kids in kindergarten to fifth grades, but they do also visit some middle schools upon request.
One program organizer says many kids don’t realize what their options are because college might not be an option financially. “Not all of the careers that we present to them require 4 years of college, some of these folks it’s vocational, 2 years, 3 years," said April Landry with OACAC. "It’s very doable regardless of the life that child is living outside of.” Landry continued talking about how kids in low income areas tend to have trouble thinking outside the box about their future. “They don’t really think big in careers, they tend to think a little bit smaller, you know what does it take to survive? So this gives them a chance to see what’s really out there.”
The six professional areas they focus on include Arts and Communication, Business Management and Technology, Health Services, Human Services, Industrial Engineering and Technology, and Natural Resources and Agriculture.
If you or someone you know would be interested in volunteering, please contact the OACAC Greene County Neighborhood Center at 417-447-0554 or visit the website at oac.ac/voice-experience/. Volunteering for VOICE will impact the lives of local children for years to come.