Decatur Youth Enrichment program preparing children for the future

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - Preparing children for the future, helping them stay out of trouble and in school, and exposing them to the arts and different U.S. cities are some of the goals of the non-profit program Decatur Youth Enrichment.

Maxine Ellison is an educator at heart.

"Anyone that's ready to learn, we take them in," says Ellison, Decatur Youth Enrichment President.

Ellison taught for decades in the traditional classroom. Now, even in retirement, she's still teaching life lessons to kids through the Decatur Youth Enrichment program.

"We help improve their skills, especially reading and math," explains Ellison. "Those are two areas that we find they really need a lot of work."

Each day, Ellison and volunteers help at-risk children excel.

"My hope is that every child will be able to live successfully in society for the future."

That preparation begins now.

"I call it preventing drugs, preventing violence, and those things that usually cause children to drop out of school," says Ellison. "We try to have a positive environment."

The environment is positive and fun! Kids in the program get tutoring four days a week. They're able to take music lessons and they go on an annual field trip out of state.

"You name it, we've been there," describes Ellison. "We've been to about 29 states."

Ellison's dedication is evident to those around her.

"The gift that she has to work with the kids has not wavered over 30 years," says Olivia Brown, Ellison's friend and program volunteer.

That unwavering dedication deserves a reward of $319 and a round of applause!

The Decatur Youth Enrichment program will celebrate its 30th anniversary this summer.