Jamestown kids will have a safe place be active outside again this summer.
The Jamestown Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department announced another season of the Summer Playground Program.
"This is one of these collaborations that for a relatively small amount of money we receive a huge impact, several times the investment," said Mayor Sam Teresi. "The value is not only for creating a safe and healthy environment for the summer months for the kids but it's also a good opportunity for college-aged people here in Jamestown to get some experience."
P-J photo by Hilary Scott
There are six playground locations this year: Allen Park, Fletcher Elementary School, Johnson Street Tot Lot, Lillian Park Tot Lot, Lincoln Elementary School and Ring Elementary School. The program's staff are all college-aged residents, many of whom hope to pursue a career path in education.
The program will run from Monday through Friday, Aug. 3, with all sites being open from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. It's geared towards children ages 5 to 13 years old.
As in years past, there will be citywide field trips and activities, including bowling, a talent show, a carnival and the playground Olympics. At the individual parks, there will be daily arts and crafts and games, such as kickball, football, box hockey and whiffle ball.
"With the increase of the childhood obesity epidemic nationwide, (the Sheldon Foundation) is really concerned about getting kids out of the house and active and interacting with other children. So we are investing in the next generation of Jamestown citizens," said Linda Swanson, Sheldon Foundation executive director.
Children must register the first time they attend their playground site, but are free to come and go as they wish after that point. According to Julia Ciesla-Hanley, city recreation coordinator, more than 400 different kids attended the program last year.
"The Community Foundation is very supportive of neighborhood initiatives that are going on right now in the city," said Randy Sweeney, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation executive director. "To have healthy and vibrant neighborhoods with families and children, you need things for the children to do."
Mayor Teresi echoed his sentiments, saying, "You can't have a strong community without strong neighborhoods. You can't have strong neighborhoods without active families with kids that are active and happy, and you need the facilities and programs in order to accomplish that."
The summer playground program is made possible through support from the city of Jamestown, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the Sheldon Foundation, New York State Office of Children and Family Services and Jamestown Public Schools.
"It's one of the line items in the city budget that you just have to hold your ground on and keep money in the city budget for this," said Teresi. "It hasn't been easy, but it's a big value.
"The playground program wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the Community Foundation and the Sheldon Foundation stepping up and filling the gap. We'd have been out of the playground business a long time ago, and there would be several hundred kids without a place to go during the summer time."
For additional information, call the Recreation Office at 483-7523.
"It's one of the line items in the city budget that you just have to hold
your ground on and keep money
in the city budget for this."