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October 27, 2010

Rec centers keep kids busy during fall break

by Deena Winter

My son, possibly the most frequent user of the Irving rec center.

I am not shy about pointing about areas where the city is deficient, and often have to explain why we don’t write stories when the buses run on time. But there are many things the city does right, and its rec centers are a good example.
Take this week. It’s fall break for Lincoln Public Schools. The weather is gorgeous. The kids are roaming the streets. And the city opens up its rec centers to all of those out-of-work middle schoolers who want to shoot hoops, shoot pool, watch TV or just hang out with friends.
From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day this week, the rec centers are open to kids.
And it’s all free. To the kids, that is. The city has to pay to keep these rec centers open, and in an era of constant budget-cutting, it’s a wonder these programs have made it through alive. Every Saturday in the fall and winter, me and my son spend a few hours playing basketball at the neighborhood rec center (I do pay a fee to rent a half court, but his playing time is free).
I think this is one of the most valuable services the city offers. It keeps those kids moving and exercising in a safe place, supervised by adults. Once in awhile, a supervisor will get a half-court shooting contest going or something, and the kids love it.
The rec centers are also open after school, and certainly we have to assume they help keep kids out of trouble during the after-school window Chief Tom Casady says kids are most likely to get into trouble.
So here’s to the city doing something very well — and to the taxpayers who pay for it.

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