Hope Parks and Recreation is set to begin their annual summer program next week, Tuesday June 8, with so much in store.
The summer program is free for kids ages six to 12 and happens every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Fair Park. This year they are also adding a second day to the schedule on Wednesdays, also from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at Northside Park.
“We have a whole list of things we’re going to do this year,” Summer Powell, director of Hope Parks & Recreation, said. “We do educational programs where we’ll bring in the police department, Pafford, fire department, Arkansas Game and Fish and so much more. We also swim on Thursdays in the city pool. We have days where we play kickball outside and other games outside and have relay races. Then we also have arts and crafts day where we like tie-dye and make different products like that.”
Powell started the program three years ago when she noticed that kids didn’t have much to do during the summer months and just saw them hanging out at the playground with nothing to do.
“I just thought it would be fun to put together a structural program to get kids involved and out of the house during the summer,” she said. “I wanted to keep them moving and motivated to hang out with other kids instead of being in the house all the time.”
Since then Powell says she has had an overwhelmingly positive response from parents about the program.
“I’ve never had issues with parents,” she said. “They’ve always loved it and I’ve actually had parent volunteers stay with their children and help. It’s kind of become family-oriented in some sense. They’ve just been really grateful to have something to do during the summer.”
The summer program comes just in time for new renovations to the playground at Fair Park and even more renovations to the playground at Northside Park coming in a few weeks.
“That playground has been here for 21 years,” she said. “It was just time for an upgrade so I made that a part of my plan when I took over last year. I want to upgrade our facilities a little bit. We worked it into the budget this year and the Hope Tourism Commission actually paid for the new fall surface.
Lunch for the program is provided by Hope Public Schools and if parents want to enter their kids into the program, they can call the Hope Parks and Recreation office 777-7500 and be put on Tiffany Dunham’s sign up sheet.