UNIVERSITY AREA COMMUNITY - Some parents might question why a summer camp for kids includes courses on etiquette and manners.
"It's because children learn critical social skills that promote self-respect and respect for others," said Jennifer DeLaRosa, creator and facilitator of such summer courses at It's All About Kids, a nonprofit after-school, spring break and summer camp center at 12256 University Mall Court, adjacent to Dillard's Department Store.
The classes, noted DeLaRosa, could even be a catalyst for keeping the youngsters out of the juvenile court system as they age.
"They become people whose lives have been enhanced by what they've learned," said DeLaRosa, the daughter of Wanda DeLaRosa, founder of It's All About Kids, a state-licensed program funded through the Children's Board of Hillsborough County.
Jennifer DeLaRosa recently conducted an interactive one-hour segment on Grooming and Hygiene, the first in a series of five separate Etiquette and Manners sessions.
Its purpose, she said, was to help the youngsters develop a lifelong dedication to taking care of their bodies. By means of a PowerPoint presentation, she and her subjects talked about the importance of proper teeth brushing, hand and body washing, hair care, nail care and sunscreen protection.
"I really try to enliven the kids and make these things more real for them," said Jennifer DeLaRosa, who injects humor into her presentations. "I love seeing their excitement and sometimes they make me laugh with the comments they make."
"What's the big deal about brushing your teeth?" she teasingly asked the class of about 50 children ranging in age from 4 to 13. "If they turn black or fall out, can't we just get new ones?"
When instructing them on how wash their bodies and clean their feet, she instructed them not to forget to "clean out that yucky toe jam."
Upcoming courses include Telephone Manners on July 15, Proper Attire on July 22, Table Manners on July 29 and School Manners on Aug. 5.
All classes run from 3 to 4 p.m. and are free for children enrolled in the center's summer camp. Youngsters not in the summer program are welcome to attend for a fee of $10 per child.
To learn more and to register, visit www.itsallaboutkids.org or call (813) 269-4402.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.