banner ad

Work and Play at HOPE Center

Councilman Up a Tree

Councilman Up a Tree

“After checking for traffic at the intersection, they’re usually running out the door, heading for the Tree Farm,” which is the way Emily Neischburg described the HOPE Center kids involvement with outdoor activities adjacent to the Lincoln School on North 10th Street in Lamar.  Neischburg, the Executive Director of Heathy Places, was on hand with volunteers from the Center, a bunch of kids and various community representatives this past Friday, May 13th, to gain input for the Inspire Grant application which will be presented later this year.  As much as $5 million could be awarded to the Lamar community to fund outdoor activities for youth in the town.

Part of a Narrative Describing Efforts for Kids

Part of a Narrative Describing Efforts for Kids

The students had spent considerable time, setting up table and wall displays depicting alternative outdoor activities that could have appeal to young and old alike, but mostly geared to the younger set. Some displays showcased the amount of time kids judged that they spent at Willow Creek, Escondido, Bicentennial and North Gateway Parks in Lamar.  Neischburg offered some sobering national facts about outdoor activities being experienced by today’s youth, “Our children get an estimated four to seven minutes of unstructured outdoor play a day, while they’re spending close to seven hours a day watching tv, a computer or video screen of some kind, or just spending time scrolling on facebook.”  She said studies have shown that their mental and emotional status is greatly improved by being involved in outdoor activities.

A Campground Made of Tires

A Campground Made of Tires

Following a lasagna lunch everyone headed for the city’s Tree Farm, several hundred yards north of the Lincoln School. And true to form, about a dozen or more were in full sprint mode as soon as they crossed Maple Street.  The tour wasn’t so much about trees, as what the kids had made for themselves out of the raw materials at hand.  The ‘mountain of mulch’ along the path is available to anyone who wants to cart some away, according to Rick Akers, Lamar Parks and Recreation Director.  It’s continually replenished by the city’s work crews year-round.  The adults in the group also noticed that the mustard weed had gotten tall and would have to be dealt with by a donated bush hog.  “This stuff just takes all the moisture out of the ground,” explained one of the adults in the group.

Eloquent and Enthusiastic About Their Work: Gabby, Maddie and Corrina

Eloquent and Enthusiastic About Their Work: Gabby, Maddie and Corrina

The kid’s interest focused on two areas, examples of what they were able to construct on their own at zero cost to anyone. One example was a homemade see-saw, tested by City Councilman and Akers climbed aboard one end, against several kids on the other end of the limb as they held on either to each other, or some branches for balance.  Another area was a campsite constructed from several abandoned tires, set in a circle around a table, “This is the kid’s creation for a place just to sit under some trees and talk,” Neischburg explained.  She said the kids have been using small tree limbs, coupled with ‘sticklets’, like a wire-tie, which are used to combine the limbs into pyramids or teepees and create an item from their imaginations.  “You don’t need a $90,000 playground to get kids to enjoy themselves out of doors,” she stated, adding that they just enjoy being out of doors in several open fields, dotted with trees.

Display of Kid's Choices for Outdoor Fun

Display of Kid’s Choices for Outdoor Fun

The remainder of the afternoon focused on a forum taking ideas from the kids on what they’d like to see in their town for outdoor fun. Neischburg said a popular area is North Gateway Park.  “Although it’s on the fringes of the town, lots of these kids have never been there.  One of the obstacles are they have no way to go as a group, and their families are becoming more involved in some of our projects such as a fishing day,” she explained.  She said the more familiar people are with a place, the more they’ll come when they have some free time, “We want the parents to become more comfortable with these places and activities so the family can come out and have fun together.”

By Russ Baldwin

Print Friendly

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesEconomyEducationEntertainmentFeaturedHealthSchoolSportsYouth

Tags:

About the Author: