COLUMBUS (WCMH) – This summer, Columbus Recreation and Parks is offering fun and fitness-themed programs to keep kids safe and off the streets.
Schiller Park is one of several parks in Columbus hosting a late-night youth basketball program this year.
The program is being offered in partnership with Columbus Police and Fire along with the rec and parks department, offering youth and young adults a free and active way to stay busy this summer.
The Late Night Basketball program is open to anyone between the ages of 6 and 30, with players separated into different age groups.
Extremely popular in the past, the basketball program was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but with CDC guidelines loosening, they’re hoping the community will return and hopefully lower the amount of crime and violence happening within Columbus.
“That’s good, it’s going to keep them off the streets,” said Columbus resident Gregory Jones. “It’s going to keep the young men off the streets and give them something to do.”
Jones has been coming to Schiller Park’s Rec Center for decades and tells me he’s even coached youth basketball here in the past. He’s thrilled to hear that late-night basketball is returning.
The program, which begins next month, will be open at 10 community centers in the city, and will run from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays.
Columbus Recreation and Parks Chief of Communications Kerry Francis said the program, along with others, will all be offered to kids and teens throughout the summer in order to keep them off the streets.
“We’re always looking for ways to keep youth engaged and give them positive, engaging activities to spend time with their peers, and with our community center staff, it’s a great way to burn off some energy and engage in some positive activity,” Francis said.
Connor Garry, 20, said he’s been coming to Schiller Park for years, and along with his roommate, they’re both interested in participating with the program as well.
“There’s always a game at Schiller Park, and sure enough, we showed up and, you know, I think we’ve played five games today with people that were here,” he said.
But what matters most, according to Jones, isn’t just the gameplay, but the relationships formed on and off the court.
“This is a nice place, ain’t know problems over here,” Jones said. “We come together, play basketball, communicate, all different colors.”
The Late Night Basketball program is set to begin June 7. Registration is free and can be done on-site.
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