LORAIN — When Leon Mason was named director of South Lorain’s Lincoln Community Center last month, he knew he’d have to develop creative ways to keep kids off the streets.
Now his creativity may spruce up local parks.
Mason plans on setting up open-gym volleyball and basketball games a few times a week so children have something to do during the summer. He’ll charge a $3 fee, which can be waived if they volunteer at one of the parks.
“This is not something to raise money for the community center,” Mason said. “I’m hoping these kids will volunteer to help their community and learn some responsibility in the process. It’s a way of giving back to the community.”
He came up with the idea after pondering how he could encourage children who were ordered by the courts to do community service at the center to remain active in the community. Since many boys attended past open gyms for basketball, he asked the girls, and volleyball was their top pick.
“It’s open to anyone who wants to participate,” he said. “If I can get kids out there volunteering for four hours, twice a week, that would be great.”
He expects more than 70 children to play, and he will develop a plan for them to perform community service as payment.
That would provide tremendous help, said Bob Renney, Parks Department director.
Because of budget constraints, the Parks Department has gone from 26 full-time employees to just four in the last few years, and the ability to maintain the city’s 56 parks has been severely diminished.
Renney said a park like Oakwood, just four blocks east of the center, constantly has litter in it and could benefit from a helping hand.
“Anytime you can combine something positive and couple that with awareness and a sense of responsibility, it’s a win-win situation,” Renney said.
“I’m anxious to try to make this work.”
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bump, set, clean
To register for volleyball or basketball open gyms this summer, contact the South Lorain Lincoln Community Center at 277-8186. The center is at 1600 E. 31st St.
Volleyball open gym:
Ages 12-14, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday
Ages 15-18, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday
Basketball open gym:
Ages 12-14, from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Ages 15-18, from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday