Having fun to build, and strengthen, relationships
Despite the temperatures reaching into the mid 90s, Barbara Johnson, recreation center supervisor at the Winnie L. Hooper Center, was full of energy as she pulled the kickball out of the back of the trailer.
The Town of Mooresville’s Mobile Recreation Unit had arrived at Magla Park to engage children in a game of kickball and basketball on July 19.
Johnson said the program’s objective is to collaborate with other town agencies during the summer to develop supervised activities that address social equity, health, wellness and nature programs in the underutilized parks.
The Mooresville Cultural and Recreation Services staff works to build relationships between residents, property managers, police and partner agencies to serve neighborhoods where children are economically challenged can benefit from these programs and relationships.
Johnson said, “It (the mobile unit) is an expanding learning opportunity program,” which they take to three local parks, the Meadow Lark Glen Apartments and the Mooresville soup kitchen summer camp. “These are supervised activities for our young people and also their parents,” she said.
The trailer is outfitted with the equipment needed for arts and crafts; basketball, baseball, Connect Four, flag football, Jenga, kickball, nature education, T-shirt designs, volleyball and Zumba.
As she does every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night, from 5:30-7 p.m., Johnson organized the children in attendance, mixed them with some of her staff to make two teams and started the game.
During the kickball game, Mooresville Public Safety Officer Dave Harding joined the staff and the half a dozen children. Chasing down Nas Turner, 6, and tagging him out at third base caused Harding to erupt with laughter as he and the children bonded through play. “Anything for the kids,” he said.
In the final inning, Johnson raced to third base as one of her summer camp counselors, Jamian Stockton, threw the ball at her leg. Stockton shouted, “Out, I hit you!” But Johnson replied, shaking her head, “Safe, I felt the wind, but it did not make contact.”
She was later driven home with Johnson’s team winning with a score of 6 to 5. After a short water break, more children arrived and the adults were allowed to sit out the basketball game as the children ran back and forth.
Johnson said that the program has served about 180 children, ages 5-14, since its inception on June 14 of this year. She hopes the program will strengthen and build relationships between the MCRS staff and residents while increasing the usage of the area parks.
Marty Price is a freelane writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information visit the web site: www.ci.mooresville.nc.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=776
The Mooresville Mobile Recreation Unit can be found from now until Aug. 18:
▪ 10-11 a.m. Aug. 9 and 16 at the Mooresville Soup Kitchen summer camp program.
▪ 5:30-7 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Meadow Lark Glen Apartments
▪ 5:30-7 p.m. Aug. 16 at Magla Park
▪ 5:30- 7 p.m. Aug. 10 and 17 at Selma Burke Community Center
▪ 5:30-7 p.m. Auf. 11 and 18at Lee Street Park
The Mobile Recreation Unit will also be at Music on Main, 6:30-9:30 p.m. the first Friday of the month from through October.