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R Kids R People 2 takes playground back

Eighteen-year-old Dago Roach remembers how he spent his childhood on the playground at Ninth and Madison streets and how children gradually stopped going there in recent years.

This weekend, the children were back on the playground with Roach officiating basketball games.

R Kids R People 2, an organization started in July by Ironton residents Joe Young and Cheryl Young hosted its third community cookout at the park throughout the Labor Day weekend, complete with 3-on-3 basketball tournaments for children of all ages. Organization leaders reported that the turnout was very high Sunday with approximately 90 children. However, Saturday's rain did put a damper on that day's activities.

"The playground belongs to the kids, and we're taking it back," Cheryl Young, vice-president, said.

Young said the playground was built for the children, but in recent years, it has been a hangout for drug dealers and adults who were drinking. The new organization hosted its first function, also a cookout, in July and has continued outreach efforts to children by handing out school supplies. Organization leaders, she said, are hoping to be able to use the Riverhills Community Center building which the now-closed-down Operation Be Proud used.

"We'd like to be able to do some tutoring," Young said. "Operation Be Proud had tutoring and a lot of kids in the projects really looked forward to it. We want to get it going again."

The organization's activities are open to the public, not just those living in the projects, she said. But, most of the children who have been served do live in the projects. The organization is also strictly non-profit and donation-driven, with donations coming from the mayor, several businesses and community members. Young said leaders of the organization are hoping to get a shed for sports equipment soon.

Chris Young, 11, loved the fact he was able to be back on the playground. He wanted to thank his brother, Joseph, organization president, for helping him be able to be on the playground and roam the entire place. Even if some children come to the playground, Chris Young said they generally have to stay in one area, and they may see someone "passing something" to another.

Fifteen-year-old Ciara Taylor's team won one of the basketball tournaments and was triumphantly carried across the court Monday by her friend Michelle Nelson.

"It was wonderful. I ate some pizza to celebrate my winning victory," she said. "I'd like to give a shout out to my girl Michelle Nelson and Dominick Murphy."

Taylor defeated Murphy in the tournament, Taylor said.