COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A recreation center in the Hilltop that will be more than just a place to play sports is taking another step forward.
It will honor the life of a young boy who was shot and killed on the Hilltop while playing outside with his friends last year.
The non-profit organization MY Project USA announced Tuesday it has officially purchased the land where the Issa Jeylani Recreation Center will be built.
Just off Galloway Road, MY Project USA will build a recreation center with the goal to keep kids safe and honor the memory of someone they lost.
“One thing that everybody needs to understand is that soccer or any sports recreation in this neighborhood is a huge deal because you’re not just talking about some kind of recreation for their fitness; you’re talking about what keeps them away from drugs and gangs and all of that, that is out there,” Founder and Executive Director of MY Project USA Zerqa Abid said.
The center is named after a boy who was shot and killed last year while playing outside with his friends.
“He was part of our family,” Abid said. “He was beloved.”
Now his name will be on a center that will provide a place for kids in the Hilltop to play soccer all year round.
“The soccer team helps because, in their free time that they have like when they’re off, they’re getting into trouble or just doing something they’re not supposed to do,” Hilltop Tigers coach and Issa’s brother Ali Jeylani said. “When you have soccer five days a week or seven days a week, whatever it is, they’re busy.”
The first phase will be to build two indoor soccer fields, adding a basketball court in the second phase.
“They’re very excited. They asked me, ‘What is going to be built? Is it next month in the winter, next year?’ So I’m just like, ‘Just wait, just be patient,’” Jeylani said.
“This center will not only save the lives of thousands of children in this neighborhood, but it will also remind us that we should always invest in the children,” Abid said. “We should always believe in the children.”
MY Project USA is asking the community for donations to help build the Issa Jeylani Recreation Center and cover the costs of the loans they had to take out to buy the land.