SALAMANCA - It's one of the most often heard phrases from youth, "There's nothing to do around here." A group of kids, along with their parents, have been doing what they can to show others the contrary.
Together with one of the parents that helped to organize the group, the L'il Warriors presented before the Salamanca school board last week, at the invitation of board member, Colleen Smith, after seeing the good that the group has been able to accomplish.
"It all started on a car ride when some of the kids were talking. Together, they made the decision to find a solution to the situation instead of a continuation," said Laura Hodara, an organizing parent of the group. "We were tired of hearing that, 'Salamanca is this, or Salamanca is that.'"
And with that, a grassroots group bent on making a positive change in their hometown was born. It wasn't just the children who played a role in the creation of this impromptu organization. Parents got together and talked about ways they could support the mission with their children.
"It started with one mom and dad talking to another mom and dad, and soon we were getting together to plan things to do," Hodara said. "We wanted to have a positive environment and to get excited about Salamanca again."
The group has started by supporting athletics in the city, holding tailgate parties at Salamanca Warriors varsity football games, where they played their own games and had hot dogs with one another. They have continued to support the basketball teams and have plans to do the same for the other sports at Salamanca.
Hodara said the support will not end at the athletic field - it was just the easiest place for them to get the energy going to start this group. She said they will also support such activities as performances in the city.
"Things are happening in the community, and for the good," Hodara said. "Things like this give the kids a chance for the kids to play together in a safe environment."
The group is made up of students from kindergarten to fourth grade, but it is not closed at those ages.
"We will not turn anyone away," Hodara said. "Our goal is to get a huge group and go out and support Salamanca. If you are at an event and aren't sure what to do or where to go, look for the red shirts."
Those red shirts with silver decoration on the front and back were an outcropping of the group. It seems that the Salamanca apparel shops didn't have shirts that were small enough to fit younger children. These were specially made for the group through business sponsors, and a contribution from the parents. The bright red shirts are a give-away of where the L'il Warriors are, and where the fun is happening.
Hodara said she has been asked about the future of the group. Of course, she would like to see it continue to grow from generation to generation.
"We want to see a continuation of the positivity and growth in the group," she said. "The kiddos in the group now will be the ones that will be on these athletic fields. They are going to need L'il Warriors to cheer them on as well. I want to see people step up and take it over as others move on."
The mission, as Hodara said, was to support Salamanca, to be a positive group. She said she, and the children, have heard the stories of what Salamanca was.
"Why isn't it what it used to be? It can be," she said.