COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The non-profit organization MY Project USA is one step closer to building an indoor recreation center for children on Columbus’ west side, something program leaders have been working toward for two years.
Plans are to name the center the Issa Jeylani Memorial Recreation Center, named after a 15-year-old who was shot and killed while at soccer practice in the Hilltop section of the city.
Zerqa Abid, executive director of MY Project USA, calls the piece of land the organization has secured for the center “a field of dreams,” and that a safe, indoor space for children in the Hilltop to play is something she’s been advocating for for years.
“This is really something that is going to change the neighborhood,” she said.
Abid wants to make sure no more innocent young people are taken away by violence.
“Issa was a special player, he was an amazing kid, very responsible, very good person, so it makes complete sense for us that we name this center after him,” Abid said.
Abid said the organization has signed the purchase contract but is still fundraising to buy and build.
“I am going to knock on every single door because I don’t want to go through this pain again,” Abid said. “I just don’t want to go through this again. We have so many precious children. We have talented, smart, good kids in our neighborhood and they deserve a safe place. We believe in it.”
The 2.1 acres of land is at the corner of Sullivant Avenue and Galloway Road. The plan calls for two buildings – one with indoor soccer fields and the other with a multipurpose gym, cafeteria, and more.
“When Issa passed away on 22 July, especially while playing soccer in front of my whole team and coaches, it was extremely heartbreaking,” Abid said. “It was traumatizing. We made a commitment that we are going to definitely do this as soon as we can.”
Abid said she hopes to also use the center as a safe space for Muslim women to enjoy.
MY Project USA is currently planning events to raise funds for the recreation center. For more information on how to get involved, click here.